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


  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





  1. Brilliant. It would reduce tree disease being imported on timber too

    Comment by Liz Ramsay — September 23, 2016 @ 7:25 pm

  2. The idea of challenging existing markets with like for like square edged production is daunting. The report needs to consider why this approach has failed in the past and why it is not likely to succeed in the future.

    My view, from the heart of the distribution chain, is that what is needed is high performance, semi manufactured products that address targeted markets with very specific needs.

    To succeed, there needs to be a lot of market research, a lot of upfront investment, and a sea change in attitude within the construction industry. All possible…but needs a very high level strategy with determined backers. Sadly, the industry itself is too fragmented to provide that push.

    Comment by simon fineman — September 24, 2016 @ 9:44 am

  3. It’s astonishing on employment, cost, environmental, bio-security and self sustainability grounds our own country production has been so low for so long. Good luck with this initiative; perhaps it will benefit from a post Brexit impetus?

    Comment by Chris Hyde — September 24, 2016 @ 10:25 am

  4. Important insights Simon that need to be listened to. It is encouraging that the sector is beginning to think bigger and deal with the fragmentation, hence some optimism simply in the coming together of some players to outline the challenges and opportunities. Perhaps as another reader commented, there are possible benefits and opportunities post-Brexit too.

    Comment by Gabriel Hemery — September 24, 2016 @ 11:05 am

  5. Agree Chris, particularly looking ahead to opportunities post-Brexit too.

    Comment by Gabriel Hemery — September 24, 2016 @ 11:06 am

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