Home Manufacturing & Industry Homegrown Timber: A Framework for Sustainable Success

Homegrown Timber: A Framework for Sustainable Success

Homegrown timber is key to accelerate rural economic development

Investing in the future of British forests and homegrown timber remains key to accelerate rural economic development. With a positive effect on domestic supply chains as well as wider sustainability goals, the benefits of homegrown timber stretch beyond our borders whilst making a real difference on home ground too.

As the largest integrated forestry business in the UK, BSW has undertaken a £125m investment programme over the last 10 years, illustrating its commitment to supporting sustainable forestry.

Dedicated to securing the future of British woodlands through an innovative programme of investment and a collaborative approach, BSW is a member of Grown in Britain and a proud ambassador of homegrown timber, recognising the many advantages that buying British can bring.

The timber supply chain is a key part of the manufacturing and construction industries in the UK adding an annual value of over £10 billion to the UK economy.

Currently, the country’s reliance on imports is seriously challenging our domestic outputs, with two-thirds of timber consumed being imported into the UK. By reducing the dependence on imports, we can all play our part in supporting local economies and growing the British timber industry.

Why is homegrown timber so important? Whether it’s used to construct new buildings, create decorative products or to heat our homes, the benefits of homegrown timber go beyond the positive environmental impact and offer opportunities for wildlife, people and local rural economies too.

Increased woodland cover brings many environmental benefits, as trees provide a retreat for wildlife, improve water quality and reduce flood risks.

As we expand our vision to encompass global issues, it is worth acknowledging that our carbon footprint is significantly lower than that generated by import materials. The relative increase in carbon emissions attributable to the import of timber, versus domestic forestry, significantly increases contributions to harmful greenhouse gases and global climate change.

The British Government’s promise to plant 11 million trees across England plus another one million trees in towns and cities, places tree planting at the heart a 25 Year Plan to improve the environment.

The government has also committed to create the Northern Forest with the planting of a further 50 million trees in a stretch of country from Liverpool to Hull. This ambitious, long-term plan will deliver far reaching economic benefits through the production of wood fuel and timber as well as reducing the risk of flooding, improving water quality and creating thousands of jobs.

This increased Government focus on homegrown timber, as well as a rising public interest and significant investment in the industry, are providing a framework for change.

Tony Hackney, CEO at BSW Timber, said: “Investing in innovation is at the core of our business. We understand the reluctance against making decisions about stock in case of further currency fluctuations, but we urge companies to remove the uncertainty in their supply chain and consider the wider benefits of buying British.”

We face national uncertainty and political unrest as debates continue around Brexit and the ultimate outcomes for the UK. What is certain amidst this is our ability to control our own security of supply and leverage our capability to add value through research and development.

Tony continues: “By removing the uncertainty of exchange rates and investing in homegrown timber, we can provide certainty in uncertain times. With reductions in many major building schemes and infrastructure projects on hold, now is the time to boost our domestic capabilities through innovation and forward thinking.”

With this kind of forward thinking and impactful initiatives, we can offer innovative ideas and practical recommendations on how the UK can encourage the international community to think about the collective impact we have on global sustainable development goals.

Tony adds: “We continue to invest in British businesses to bolster the homegrown timber movement. The acquisition of Maelor Forest Nurseries Holdings Ltd in July 2019, illustrates just one of the ways we are investing in the supply chain.
Maelor Forest Nurseries is located in Wrexham on the English/Welsh border, and produces an extensive range of commercial forestry and native broadleaf species, marketing almost 30 million trees a year to customers throughout the UK and Europe.

Against a backdrop of major international blue-chip organisations, BSW is proud to find ways to continuously improve by investing in innovation, and the organisation is also an active contributor to the WWF’s Timber Scorecard, which measures the progress on sustainability made by buyers of timber and wood products – BSW fully backs the WWF’s campaign to prevent unsustainable timber from entering the UK market and supports the aim of a sustainable forest products market by 2020.

In recent news, Ministers of the UK and Scottish Governments, and leaders of the five councils of the Borderlands Partnership, signed off Heads of Terms for the £394.5m Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, which includes proposed investment in rural development.

Part of this investment includes the proposed creation of a ‘Forestry Innovation Centre’ – a centre of excellence designed to showcase innovation and improve productivity across the supply chain, shaped collectively by major players in the forestry sector, including BSW.

The £10m dedicated to the creation of a natural capital innovation zone, specifically the Forestry Innovation Centre, has huge potential for the sector. It is exciting news for forestry and represents a significant opportunity to support natural capital innovation across the Borderlands region.

Improving infrastructure and investing in manufacturing and processing are vital to the growth of the UK timber industry. Developing goods here from British woodlands presents significant opportunities to support and create local jobs whilst boosting the regional and national economy.

Our imminent exit from the European Union presents some major opportunities for the British timber industry – so with growing momentum around the capabilities and benefits of homegrown timber, we can incentivise buyers through the security of supply going forward.

Let’s embrace our roots and leverage a strong political position for supporting homegrown trees, forests and woodlands, backed by a talented and well-established supply chain primed for expansion. Now more than ever, there’s no place like homegrown.