CTI Blog - The Case for Wood

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CTI Blog - The Case for Wood

This blog post is by CTI Director and TTF MD David Hopkins.

 

Making the case for wood to an audience of architects, designers and manufacturers at the recent Wood Awards in London, David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), left nobody in doubt as to the importance of wood as the key construction material for many reasons:

“The Wood Awards provides a clear picture, a clear distillation of many of the central arguments for the use of wood across multiple markets – particularly around sustainability, around skills and skilled jobs, around innovation, and around housing.

"First is the environment and sustainability. We face multiple issues around the theme of climate change. Not least is the disappearance of forest landscapes around the world. The basic fact is: if we want to keep forests, we have to increase demand for forests. To do that, we need to increase the use of the products from forests and increase their basic value.

“I was a speaker recently at the tropical timber conference in Paris. At this conference there was an illuminating set of satellite images showing deforestation in several tropical countries. They showed forest cover in the 1980s and then forest cover in 2017. It was depressing. Huge tracts disappeared, gone. But, what was interesting is that most of the areas that had been felled were “protected areas” – conservation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges and so on. The areas that were still standing, that showed unbroken canopies and the greatest forest cover were those with commercial licences and a management plan for timber harvesting. Those that massively increase the value of the trees that are standing and can therefore provide more money to those people that depend on them. It seems counter intuitive, but those areas with commercial licences had more trees, more wildlife and more biodiversity than those areas which were supposedly protected. The people could appreciate the value more.

“At a European level, we have one of the most intense forestry sectors in the world – roughly 5% of forest cover and about 25% of all industrial production. And because of that demand, our forests are growing. We use something like 65% of the annual growth each year, with large swathes untouched. It provides a massive carbon sink, ecosystem services, water services, biodiversity and the basis for a thriving bio-economy. But, it only works because of demand for the product. Demand for responsibly sourced wood means demand for responsibly managed forests and forest growth.

“When you move that on, you see you’re not just dealing with a low carbon material, but that then this becomes the basis of very low energy, low-carbon manufacturing. All of the products and entries you see at the Wood Awards will have been made in a manufacturing outlet, whether it is a ‘furniture factory’ or a ‘housing factory’. Yet to manufacture these items from wood requires far less energy and therefore has a far lower carbon footprint than any other competing material. If we want to have our low-carbon revolution, we need low-carbon materials and low-carbon manufacturing. Timber helps us achieve both.

“The timber sector affords a lot of career pathways in multiple directions. As trade bodies we want to see a great expansion in the downstream timber manufacturing sector – in furniture, joinery, timber frame and housing – but this will never happen without skilled workers.  So our thanks and support go to the Carpenters Company and the Building Crafts College – and other centres like these throughout the UK – for without these skilled students coming through we don’t have a future.

“Finally, the Wood Awards highlight the way in which timber can help solve the housing crisis in the UK. Timber frame is the fastest growing method of housebuilding now in the UK, accounting for about 28% of all new build last year. So, my appreciation of the awards is not just for its integrity and commitment to aesthetics, beauty and craftsmanship, but for me the aesthetics of the final entries comes as the icing on the cake. It is the result of growing forests around the world, adding more to nature than you are taking away, of creating and valuing skilled jobs, developing a high-value, low-carbon innovative manufacturing sector and, through all of that, creating objects and buildings of beauty and making the world a generally better, healthier, more sustainable and beautiful place to live. 

“And that certainly deserves an Award!”

The full list of the awarded projects – including photos and technical info – is available here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-case-wood]