The latest Timber Trade Federation statistics reveal volumes in February were 14% higher than February 2013. For the first two months of the year, volumes were 21% higher, an increase of 260,000m3 over the opening months of 2013.

The TTF said average prices of most timber and panel products have also gone up with an 11% increase for softwood.

"The monthly rise in February 2014 was the lowest for five months, but it was the ninth consecutive month of volume increase," the TTF said.

Softwood imports grew by 27% year-on-year and for the first two months of 2014 were 923,000m3, compared with 726,000m3 in 2013. Sweden continues to dominate the market and increased it share to almost half. Latvia showed the strongest growth in market share, coming ahead ahead of Finland.

The value of softwood imports was 41% higher in the first two months of the year at £177m as a result of an 11% rise in average prices as well as the 27% increase in volumes.

Hardwood imports rose 13.2% in February with volumes for the first two months at 74,000m3. The US continued to be largest supplier, but 50% growth put Cameroon in second place.

In plywood, hardwood products fell 9% in February while softwood rose 20.2%. Chipboard was up 35.6%, OSB by 7.5% and MDF by 22.4%.

Prices were firmer for most products, with imported softwood reaching a high average of around £198m3 in January. Averages for temperate hardwood were up 7% and tropical hardwood 3.5%. Hardwood plywood imports were stable at £348m3 in February. Softwood plywood fell 1%.