At a recent forum at the University of New South Wales, Dr Fujiwara Takashi, managing director of the Japan Federation of Wood Industry Associations, said there had been a 40% increase in wood transport over the past 12 years in Japan.

Timber is considered an important building material in Japan where about half of the new build homes are timber frame. But while very little energy is consumed during the production process of timber as a building material, the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its transport can be high.

Dr Takashi said the wood miles concept was spreading throughout Japan as a way of giving consumers reliable information about the environmental load and increasing transparency between consumers and the forests as a way of encouraging local sourcing of building materials.

“This research by the Japanese shows why it is important that all environmental aspects of a product’s life cycle are understood before comparing products or materials,” said Andrew Dunn, general manager of Australia’s Timber Development Association.

Meanwhile, the Australian timber industry has helped strengthen a partnership between Australian and Japanese architecture students.

The students taking part in a two-week timber design studio had to design a marine repair and community information centre and the brief required them to use locally-sourced timbers and sustainable practices.