The new Confederation of Forest In-dustries (UK) Ltd (ConFor), officially launched on November 10 at a Westminster event hosted by the all-party parliamentary group on forestry and attended by environment minister Elliot Morley, has set out its key initial roles.

Edinburgh-based ConFor started up on October 1 and has two founding shareholders – the UK Forest Products Association and the Forestry & Timber Association. It is already developing strong links with other forestry/timber industry bodies, academia and the research community.

The intention was to make ConFor “an inclusive and influential organisation” and to find key themes that united the industry – such as building the market for timber and timber products, interim chief executive David Crichton explained to the gathering in London which included MPs, peers and representatives from forestry/timber industry organisations.

While the timber/forestry sector made an important social and environmental contribution, Mr Crichton stressed that none of this could be delivered unless the industry was commercially sustainable. This was particularly relevant now that the industry was having to operate in an increasingly competitive and global environment.

“I see ConFor having three main functions,” he said. “The first is to build the market for wood and sales for the industry and in this we will work closely with the ‘Naturally Wood’ strategy and the wood. for good campaign.

“We also want to lobby and influence government at all levels, from international and national government to town halls, and demonstrate how we can work with them to help achieve their sustainability objectives.

“And finally we will be an expert resource for members providing information and technical advice. We want them to see that ConFor has clear benefits for them and that it can act as a cohesive force for what is still a fragmented industry.”

ConFor’s interim chairman Tom Bruce-Jones said: “We believe our industry has an important role to play in delivering sustainable development in the UK and we need a new and effective organisation in place to help get that message across.”

Mr Morley congratulated the industry on the launch of the new body. “Bringing the various groups in the sector together is the way forward,” he said.

He also extended an offer to ConFor “to continue the partnership between the forestry sector and government”. “I appreciate the links and co-operation we’ve already established,” he said. “We have a shared agenda with the forestry industry in terms of sustainable development and construction and it’s a sector I want to see do well. We want to see a strong healthy timber industry. It’s important to our country and is supplying a good product with a good image.”

He added that the government also wants to see more wood used in the UK “because of its sustainable values”.

“Timber and forestry could also have an important role to play in relation to our carbon offset policies,” he said.