The timber industry’s future lies in a commitment to supplying environmentally- certified, sustainable materials, according to Timber Trade Federation (TTF) president John Tong.

Nearly 400 TTF members and guests attending the federation’s annual dinner in London heard Mr Tong challenge the industry “to show a consistent message that we will not allow our market to be driven down on price”.

He said the promotion of all certification schemes which meet the criteria of the Central Point for Expertise on Timber needed to be the fundamental attitude developed within the industry.

Mr Tong called for the trade not to get caught up in negative comparisons between different certification schemes but to unite in promoting timber as the only truly sustainable construction material.

“If we as a trade cannot offer an inclusive and positive promotion of timber’s undeniable environmental benefits, you can rest assured that our competitors in steel and concrete will take full advantage of this, and we will all lose out in the long term.”

Mr Tong said the TTF’s next AGM would decide whether the Responsible Purchasing Policy became a compulsory aspect of federation membership.

He also said the acute housing shortage and London 2012 Olympics presented huge potential for the trade to take advantage of.

Mr Tong hoped the industry could draw collective strength from unifying the efforts of all other timber-related organisations, working together on shared concerns such as the environment, transport and energy.

Bernard Lowery was presented with a TTF Lifetime Achievement Award by Mr Tong. Mr Lowery said: “I feel there is a friendship here that echoes throughout every company.”