Testing market conditions ahead put even greater onus on the industry to promote the unique environmental selling points of wood.

This was the core of the New Year message from Timber Trade Federation president Martin Gale.

He described 2011 as a “tough year for all concerned” and said that the next 12 months were not looking much better, with construction output set to fall more than 5%.

The good news for timber was that increasingly tough environmental regulation of the building sector and government initiatives like the Green Deal, to boost construction sustainability generally, could give it the edge over rival materials.

“Low carbon and low cost are going to be the key to maintaining market share and on both grounds the timber industry should be miles ahead of competitors,” said Mr Gale.

However, he warned that wood’s green credentials still did not have the “visibility” they need. The industry had the vehicles to achieve this, including the Wood Awards, Timber Expo and the upcoming new Wood for Good campaign, which will focus on “making wood the first choice for architects and contractors”. But these initiatives would only succeed with broad backing.

“We need to prove to the rest of the market that, as a sector, we stand together and speak with one voice,” said Mr Gale.