Geoff Rhodes, president of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and marketing and sales director of Weyerhaeuser Europe, gave the keynote speech to delegates at the seventh annual European Panel Products Symposium in Llandudno last week.

He reviewed the history of MDF production worldwide and outlined the initiatives carried out by the TTF to promote MDF and other wood products to the UK market.

He also told delegates about his efforts within the TTF to establish a more comprehensive statistical base of the UK forest products industry.

“Our trade is made up of many components and the opportunity to have strength, by identifying the critical mass, seemed very logical to me,” said Mr Rhodes, who pointed out that the trading volume of softwoods, hardwoods and panel products was 16.4 million m3, with a value of £2.3bn.

He also talked of the perception of wood and wood products being positively raised in the UK by a variety of initiatives such as forest certification, the wood. for good campaign and the Forest Education Initiative.

Mr Rhodes emphasised the importance of attracting young people into the industry and hoped it could raise its profile to attract them into the forest products sector.

The symposium attracted an international audience of 110 scientists, suppliers to the panel making industry and panel makers to hear 25 presentations over three days.