That is the verdict of forestry experts Mike Tustin, of woodland and forestry specialists Tustins and Oliver Combe of Timber Auctions, who are predicting a significant increase in demand for home-grown timber from traditional markets and also western countries looking to replace Russian timber.

Last year Russia exported £8.8bn (US$11.7bn) of timber, with the UK importing 450,000m3 of Russian timber products. With Russia having halted timber exports to the west, the UK construction industry is warning of potential disruption to supplies and shortages in some product areas.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has reported that the price of imported sawn or planed wood had increased 69.6% over the last 12 months.

Ukraine and Belarus are major suppliers of pallet and packaging timber to western Europe, with the war and the sanctions imposed on Belarus, which is supporting Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, also impacting on the market.

Oliver Combe said: “As the western economies move to reduce their dependency on Russian energy and associated products through renewable energy, low carbon building products and increased self-sufficiency, we are going to see huge pressure on our timber resources,” said Oliver Combe.

“The war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia are going to substantially impact on a UK timber market that needs a clear strategy from the government.”

This increasing demand for timber comes at a time when there are concerns over the UK government’s woodland strategy and its ability to hit a stated target of planting at least 7,500ha of trees a year by March 2025.

Defra has estimated that between 1,400 and 1,900ha of trees will be planted this year under its Nature for Climate Fund tree programme. It had hoped to plant 2,577ha to stay on course to achieve the government’s target.

A reluctance amongst landowners to commit land for planting, a shortage of foresters and delays by the Forestry Commission in approving applications for planting grants are some of the reasons given for the failure to hit the stated targets.

“With the demand to establish thousands of hectares of new trees, there will be a pressing need for woodland experts to plant and grow them from a forestry contracting sector that has been allowed to run down over the years,” said Mike Tustin.

“In response to this increased interest in woodlands, it is clear we need an agreed  strategy across all areas of the timber industry, from amenities to commercial and conservation.”

Mr Tustin also signposts the increased interest in woodland purchases as part of carbon offsetting strategies by organisations and individuals as another pressure on the UK industry.

“Around 90% of enquires we receive are from organisations and individuals interested in carbon offsetting and clearly there is a belief within the business community that the government is going to offer incentives,” he said.

“We are anticipating possible tax or other enticements from the government for woodland schemes to offset carbon emissions undertaken by businesses or organisations. Therefore, we are seeing a rush to establish woodlands in the UK fueled by the value of timber, which has been rising every year.

“It is clear that the government has finally woken up to the value of planting woodland, however this increased demand will require careful planning as the expertise and manpower required to undertake the planting is in short supply.”