Chief executive Stuart Goodall urged governments in the UK to work with the forestry and timber industry to seize the moment following publication of National Forest Inventory reports by the Forestry Commission.

The 25-Year Forecast of Softwood Availability for the UK and the 25-Year Forecast of Standing Coniferous Volume and Increment for Great Britain reveal private-sector forests have an opportunity to increase production.

Extensive planting of new forests between 1960-1990 has created a peak in the potential amount of timber available for market as trees reach the age of commercial harvesting over the next 25 years.

Forestry Commission head of inventory and forecasting Peter Weston said: "Being able to understand and illustrate the impact of different harvesting scenarios on the current conifer resource is an essential part of planning for many different interests, including industry development, biodiversity and climate change."

Mr Goodall said: "We are delighted the conifer growing stock is significantly higher than previously measured and this provides a fantastic opportunity to grow a low-carbon sector that can create thousands of jobs."

A Confor study published earlier this month suggested at least 7,000 jobs could be created in the forestry sector in England alone if a sustainable approach is adopted.

"We need to use the wood that we have wisely in the areas where it is most efficient, such as encouraging the manufacture of more timber products that lock up carbon. Secondly, it is imperative that we take a sustainable approach, ensuring that new planting picks up pace," said Mr Goodall.