The timber industry has a USP over other building materials that must be the envy of any business, but the trade has moved “very slowly and very patchily to embrace the opportunities provided”, Timber Trade Federation president Neil Donaldson said this week.

Speaking at the Bristol Channel & Western Timber Association on Thursday, Mr Donaldson said many companies seemed to be doing what they had always done, or argued that there was no demand for legal or sustainable wood, or that people were not willing to pay more.

However, he said, companies had a “moral imperative” to buy legal and sustainable timber; and there was also a good business case.

“Your behaviour says everything about what kind of company you are. And good companies get good business,” he said.

The government’s procurement policy demanded legal and sustainable timber, and increasing numbers of customers, and customers’ customers were developing tough guidelines for timber purchasing.

“To those who say there is no demand and that they are making good money, I say you could make so much more and sleep better at night. Your behaviour will also help stimulate demand,” said Mr Donaldson.

The TTF’s Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) was a ready-made and well-respected business tool that helped timber companies to ensure their timber was legal and sustainable.

“I know I am beating this drum about the RPP but it frustrates me that as an industry we are not embracing the opportunity quickly or thoroughly enough,” said Mr Donaldson.

• In his speech, Bristol Channel & Western Association chairman Ian Attwood praised the work of secretary Gerry Griffiths.

“Gerry’s contribution to the association over the years has been unbelievable; we are lucky to have him,” said Mr Attwood. “With his continued involvement the association is in very safe hands.”