The Stockport company has already reduced its reliance on the ground protection stalwart West African ekki and is looking at other species as well as turning to North America as its source for oak.

Managing director John Roberts told TTJ that ekki’s over exploitation in West Africa and the species’ rising price was forcing companies to look for other species to use for timber mats – used to provide a base for cranes and excavators on construction sites, as well as to protect hardstanding surfaces.

Ekki, prized by contractors for its strength and durability, now makes up only about 10% of Timbermat’s stockholding, though many of its clients are still asking for the species because of its long and successful use in the temporary roadway sector.

"We are actively looking at different species," said Mr Roberts. "For us, the wood does not need to be pretty.

"We have long been anticipating the demise of ekki as the new regulation is introduced, because of the implications on tropical timber. That is why we have been researching alternative woods which have similar qualities to ekki."

He said ekki would still be imported but in smaller volumes and at higher prices.

Timbermat has looked at alternative African species mara and dabema, while it has also been sent a South American sample.

Timbermat, which recorded a £1.3m turnover in 2012 and has one of the largest stockholdings of timber mats in the UK, said it can already produce certificates of origin for all its ground protection solutions.

It is also now importing North American oak mats instead of European oak.

The company has imported European oak for some years but said said supply sources were unreliable, especially during poor weather in recent years, while it had also found difficulties in obtaining the necessary legality paperwork to satisfy the new regulations.

"It was ridiculous, we needed to find a reliable source," said Mr Roberts. "The North American product is a bit more expensive, but it has all the legality assurance and is abundant."