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Sourcing and Using Home-Grown Wood Products

posted on June 27, 2022

Sylva Foundation’s views on sourcing and using home-grown wood products.

Using more wood products sourced from UK forests will stimulate our economy while improving the environmental condition of more woodlands, reducing wood-miles (carbon footprint of importing timber), and help reconnect people with the benefits of a working countryside.

Sylva Foundation has set out its views on sourcing and home-grown wood products, and articulated how these link to its charitable purpose in a new position statement: Sourcing and Using Home-Grown Wood Products. The position statement also sets out a number of actions which it commits to following and will advocate to others. The position statement can be downloaded here.

 

Home-Grown Wood Procurement - decision tree

Home-Grown Wood Procurement – decision tree

Context

  • Sylva Foundation’s vision is for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it.
  • Much of the UK’s wildlife has adapted to thrive in managed forests.
  • Currently there is low awareness of the provenance of wood products among users and consumers, and therefore a lack of awareness of the resulting consequences for the environment and economy.
  • There is a perception among UK users of wood products that supply is limited and/or that quality is poor.

Our Actions

Sylva Foundation position statement on sourcing and using home-grown wood products

download the position statement

Sylva Foundation will:

  1. advocate a hierarchal approach, placing a preference for home-grown wood products above some certified wood products.
  2. develop and make freely available a decision support tool to aid good environmental and ethical decision making by users of wood products (see below).
  3. be proactive in supporting the mission and activities of Grown in Britain.
  4. explore how best to improve the UK woodchain.

Home-grown Wood Product Selector tool

Sylva Foundation has developed a beta version of a Home-Grown Wood Product Selector decision support tool. This tool is provided free to use and aims to guide wood product users in decision making for sourcing timber and wood products in the UK. Sylva Foundation aims to develop this tool further with support from partners, and if investment can be attracted, develop a simple mobile application to improve accessibility and user experience.

home-grown wood product selector tool

home-grown wood product selector tool

 


Background

The area of woodland in the UK is estimated to be 3.2M hectares (13%); meaning that it is the second least-wooded country in Europe. A significant proportion of woodland area (44%) has been certified under the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme. However, a similar area of woodland (e.g. 42% in England) is without a management plan compliant with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). Such non-compliant UKFS woodlands may be failing to deliver benefits to society, the environment, and to the UK economy.

The UK is the second largest importer of timber of any country in the world (second only to China), including 7.2M m3 of sawnwood and 5.3M tonnes of pulp and paper, amounting to £7.5 billion worth of imports . From its own forests, the UK produces 3.3M m3 of sawnwood, 3.0M m3 of wood-based panels, and 3.6M m3 of paper product.

It may seem obvious that a country with low woodland cover may be reliant on timber imports for much of its needs, however the current low level of woodland management in the UK is a real concern. Not only does a reliance on wood product imports leads to significant carbon footprint due to transportation (‘wood-miles’), but the under-performance of the UK timber market means that woodland owners may remain unmotivated to improve the condition of their woodlands, or even to invest in creating new woodland. Good woodland management (as measured against the UKFS) is closely linked not only to the economy, but also to the environmental condition of our woodlands.


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Summer School 2021

posted on October 12, 2021

In September, Sylva Foundation hosted a Summer School for young creative people to promote design and craft using home-grown timber. The inspiring report from the workshop is published today to coincide with Grown in Britain week.

Sylva Foundation cares passionately about trees and people, and at its Wood School in south Oxfordshire it has set out to nurture a wood culture, enhancing the potential of a home-grown timber supply while promoting the benefits of managing woodlands for people and nature. It is promoting excellence in creativity and craft using home-grown timber, and this year’s week-long Summer School was no exception. This inspiring event was the perfect vehicle to educate, collaborate, and innovate.

The concept of the 2021 Summer School was to bring together a group of passionate creative people and provide them with all of the necessary ingredients to explore, design, and create prototypes in the charity’s professional workshops.

Summer School 2021

Summer School 2021

A series of talks by industry leaders inspired and educated delegates about the potential of under-utilised home-grown timber, providing context for the fast-paced design-and-make experience which followed. The delegates were then encouraged and fostered a ‘thinking through making’ approach, supported by a brilliant team of tutors.

The added dimension of the group was that all identified as women or non-binary, creating a community of makers that went against the grain of most furniture craft courses, and indeed the wider industry. This led to some supportive conversations about gender and hopefully a group that will continue to support one another into the future.

Head of Wood School Joseph Bray commented:

Everyone involved was blown away by the experience and certainly, everyone involved went home exhausted yet inspired. The results were incredibly impressive and represent the hard work of this remarkable cohort.

Download the report


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UK could double its hardwood timber production and reduce reliance on imports

posted on September 22, 2016

The UK currently consumes more than 0.5M cubic metres of hardwood timber every year but less than 10% of this is grown in the UK. Yet sustainable home-grown timber production could be doubled by 2050, reducing timber imports by 50,000 cubic metres. This would underpin investment in innovation both in the utilisation of our woodlands and their management. These are the dramatic findings of the Grown in Britain WoodStock report published this month.

opportunities for uk hardwood

Some opportunities for UK hardwood

Summary:

  1. An increase of 20% in hardwood timber production is achievable in the short-term, reaching 100% increase by 2050.
  2. For the next 40 years 400,000 cubic meters could be brought to market sustainably, without reducing the overall growing stock in our woodlands.
  3. If timber specifications are altered, to reduce the specification of oak in favour of other species, and with improvements to infrastructure, then there is significant scope to increase production eight fold over the long term.
  4. Timber imports could be reduced by approximately 50,000 cubic metres per year.
  5. A gap in the supply chain was identified, similar to consolidation yards run by timber exporters in other countries, supplying licensed timber direct to wholesalers. Grown in Britain WoodStock could fulfill a role in providing this licensed timber at a competitive price.
  6. An online timber buying platform could help organise stocks and help with marketing, possibly linking right back to woodland owners who have access to their own processing facilities.
  7. The research project consortium was led by Grown in Britain and included Sylva Foundation alongside BRE, English Woods Timber, Forestry Commission, Sustainable Construction Solutions, and Wilmott Dixon. Partial funding was provided by Innovate UK.

 

Read more about the WoodStock project and Grown in Britain

Download the full report

Download the full report

 

 

 

Category: WOOD
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