The timber trade is coming under increasing pressure over illegal timber, according to Dr Ian Goldsmith, group planning director at Travis Perkins plc.

Speaking at the Timber Trade Federation‘s international and UK suppliers division annual lunch, Dr Goldsmith said shareholders and pension fund holders were increasingly concerned about corporate social responsibility, especially with regard to timber procurement.

And he said the trade should listen with “big ears” to what the NGOs have to say because some of the points they made were fair.

Talking about timber procurement policy he said independent certification and proof of sustainability were a must and that legality alone was not sufficient. And he said that a set of agreed stepping stones leading to certification would be helpful to firms seeking to go that route.

Looking at the wider options, Dr Goldsmith said consideration should be given to using alternative timber species which were already certified, and that there were a number of engineered solutions within the industry.

The beauty of timber products, he said, was that they were versatile in use and that some NGOs would agree that timber had a low environmental impact compared with other products. But this could only be proven when it could be shown that the timber was sustainably harvested.

Certification schemes needed to constantly question their own criteria, seek continuous improvement and, he said: “Independent audit is critical.”

Dr Goldsmith said the trade needed action not talk and referred to the upcoming TTF workshop “Sourcing legal timber from Indonesia” to be held at Mark Mason’s Hall, London on June 4.

Thanking Dr Goldsmith, division chairman Kevin Hayes said: “This independent certification will become a market entry requirement in the near future, and I like the idea of elements towards certification.”