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.
- 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.
Sylva Foundation will:
- advocate a hierarchal approach, placing a preference for home-grown wood products above some certified wood products.
- develop and make freely available a decision support tool to aid good environmental and ethical decision making by users of wood products (see below).
- be proactive in supporting the mission and activities of Grown in Britain.
- 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.
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.