CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Global sustainability issues require global and innovative solutions

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Can Economic Growth and Sustainability co-exist? This question has been debated for decades and is at the core of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) taking place this week in Paris.

Preserving Earth’s resources implies not only the switch to a low carbon, sustainable and long-lasting economic model, but also the engagement of all the productive sectors. In other words: global issues require global and innovative solutions.

The challenge is huge but the timber industries are ready to tackle it head on. Timber is the only true renewable construction and manufacturing material and we want to reinforce this message. Flexible, mouldable and low-energy processed, timber-based products could really contribute to a low carbon economy, helping UK to achieve its carbon reduction targets.

Several research studies show that increasing the use of wooden products from sustainable managed forests would have beneficial implications on the environment: - replanting of harvested trees [1]; - storing carbon in timber products [2]; - promoting woodland expansion all over the world [3]; - reducing emissions and air pollution [4].

If the equation is easy to understand - more trees planted = more CO2 absorbed – we still have a long way go to spread this message to key decision makers and opinion formers. The Confederation of Timber Industries will do its share in promoting this new approach. With the help of our supporters including timber supply chain companies and environmental organisations, we are going to publish a report on growing the use of sustainable timber in May 2016.

The aim will be to report on the future of timber as the only truly sustainable material and how the sector could develop a credible place at the forefront of the low carbon economy. Replenishing natural resources, both domestically and globally, is our responsibility, as well as enhancing a sustainable and prosperous model business model.

The CTI Board has already agreed clear objectives in its strategic plan (2015-2017) which will be covered by the report,  including: - develop the case for low carbon footprint in the domestic market; - ensure there is consistent application of standards through established certification schemes; - improve application and enforcement of timber related regulation in key EU member states.

To expand on the last objective the report will include an analysis of the EU’s review of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR). Although it represents a valid tool to tackle illegal logging and trade, its effectiveness is clearly undermined by loopholes and exceptions [5]. Similarly we believe the implementation of the EUTR should be more closely aligned with other related policies such as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade).

The CTI welcomes the application of consistent standards, clear due diligence requirements and fair competition between companies in different member states. There is substantial scope for improvements to the EUTR and the CTI strongly supports the WWF and trade associations who are already campaigning on the issues surrounding timber regulation in the EU.

The more united we stand, the more chance we have to make an impact around the decision-making tables. 



[1] “In managed European forests there are five trees planted for each harvested”, Timber Accord, 2014

[2] “Roughly one tonne of carbon is stored for every metre cubed of timber used. If we build 200,000 new houses in timber it would store around 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year”, Wood For Good, 2014

[3] “Europe’s forests have increased by almost 13 million ha - about the size of Greece - in the past 15 years through new planting and natural expansion of forests,” Forest Europe report, 2011

[4] “By increasing the UK’s forest cover from 13 to 16%, we could reduce around 10% of our national CO2 emissions by 2050”, Timber Accord, 2014

[5] For instance, the EUTR excludes seat products (including chairs and sofas) from its scope alongside musical instruments, soft furnishings and toys. The TTF has estimated that the EUTR currently only covers approximately 40% of products by value that originate from forests 

CTI Blog - CTI Scholarship, nurturing a new generation of Architects

This blog is by Adrian Jabonero, architect and MSc Timber Industry Management student at Edinburgh Napier University

When I received the news that I had been awarded the CTI Scholarship to study MSc Timber Industry Management at Edinburgh Napier University, I thought I was very fortunate. Since the first moment, I was conscious that developing my profile studying at one of the most prominent universities on the Built Environment in the UK was a great opportunity. In addition, Edinburgh is a great place to live in.

From my perspective as an Architect, I am conscious of the increasing engagement in terms of environmental and social responsibility in the built environment. This must be encompassed with an efficient management and proper technical knowledge. The MSc Timber Industry Management course is focused on Construction Project Management, Sustainable Design and, of course, Timber Construction. The MSc in Timber Industry Management is unique as its curriculum joins up these key connected subjects allowing to develop the Sustainable Construction Industry for the future.

So far the Strategic Management module has given me the chance to get in touch with the Timber Industry’s reality. Studying the case studies of some featured companies and drafting a strategy for the forthcoming years is stimulating.

The Project Management module provides theoretical and technical base for future Project Managers in Construction, highlighting the development of critical thinking skills and the acquisition of managerial competencies.

The Sustainable Building Design module offers another approach to the industry. This module drafts a vision on environmental issues, involving social and economic aspects as well. It challenges the students with projects on sustainable housing and public buildings in disparate locations.

Thus the course and the city of Edinburgh are exceeding my expectations. ENU enjoys a vibrant student activity, promoting a hands-on approach in a new technologies focused atmosphere.

Moreover, the CTI scholarship supported by the TTF  is unique, giving me the chance to know from within the industry how featured companies work. It is our aim to provide regular updates on site visits through the CTI Blog.

Again, my sincere gratitude to CTI, TTF and ENU for such opportunity.

CTI Blog - Historic day for the voice of timber industries

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

It was definitely one of those historic moments. On 15 October CTI Chairman Peter Hindle MBE welcomed the new directors to the first CTI Board meeting. In his opening remarks Peter referred to timber being an important part of his personal background and the history of the Saint Gobain Group. Although he recognised that there were a number of issues in terms of sustainability and skills which had to be addressed he firmly believed timber industries had a great future and potential to grow. To this end, improving industry advocacy to the end user market would be critical.

It was a great Board meeting in so many ways. The Board members spoke passionately from their business experience. All are senior executives who represent their companies or trade association members from across the whole Timber Supply Chain, from saw mills, wood panel production and timber importers to furniture makers, paper manufacturers, builders merchants and housing construction and repairs and maintenance in interiors.

The Board is also fully behind the vision to speak as a single voice for the whole of the Timber Industry Supply Chain. They will not waver from the CTI’s mission to improve the business landscape to grow the use of timber and develop vibrant and increasingly prosperous timber industries.

And most importantly, the Board agreed a three year strategic plan. Key objectives will be to

Develop new economic measures to grow the whole timber industries supply chain

Promote timber as the most sustainable and sustainable building material and an integral part of the low carbon society

Address skills shortages in the supply chain and persuade more young people to choose a career path in the timber industries

We will be publishing the strategic plan soon and developing these policy areas in more detail at member working group meetings in November. Watch this space for more details. In other words, more history will be made.

CTI Blog - “A Day in the Woods”, an inspiring event

This blog post is by Benedetto Antuono, CTI Communications Coordinator

Some stories are really worth telling. And James Latham Ltd is one of these. Established in 1757, member of the TTF, it is one of the leading importers and distributors of softwood and hardwood in the UK, and last week was named TTJ Timber Trader of the Year for the 6th year in a row.

I met Chris Sutton, James Latham Managing Director, during the TTJ awards on 24 September in London Visibly excited, he received the Award from Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive, and few hours later he drove back to Leicester to tie up some loose ends for the company suppliers’ event, significantly named “A day in the woods”.

The day after, I met Chris again in Nanpantan, Leicestershire. The elegant businessman seen at the Landmark Hotel now wore a Rugby sweatshirt, blue jeans and boots. Standing in the information point in the National Forest, he was explaining to his guests the meaning of “A day in the woods”.

“We are happy to be here again”, said Chris. “Our partnership with the National Forest goes back to 2007 when we planted 250 trees to mark our 250th anniversary. In 2012, we planted other 60 trees for the Jubilee and we will renew the agreement again”.

“As you know, this event celebrates the relationship between James Latham and the National Forest, one of the greatest regeneration projects in the UK with over 8 million trees planted, but today we are also here to practise some good “team building” in the open air. You won’t regret it”!

As on Thursday, the audience was made of influential representatives of the UK Timber Industry but, this time, all of them, a group of 16 ladies and gentlemen, wore frayed pants, lumberjack shirts and old shoes.

20 minutes later I discovered why.

We went to a sustainably managed wood nearby, and quickly we started to clean the area from infesting bushes and small trees. Equipped with pruners and hacksaws, we worked for nearly 2 hours under the sunshine in teams of three labourers. It was great to see Directors, Managers and CEOs from all across the Timber Supply Chain, sometimes competitors sometimes allies, collaborating and sweating side by side, to achieve the same objective.

Around lunch time, the area already looked much more orderly with the new-planted birches and spruces in row. We could even catch a glimpse of the end of the wood in the distance.

Suddenly I stopped and wondered. “That’s a great metaphor”, I realised. “Apparently in a well-managed forest, you can see both the trees and the wood at the same time! If we just exported this model to our Industry, working in the same direction and combining different interests, expertise and opinions, we could really achieve big targets”!

Exactly what the CTI is doing.

“Thanks Chris, that’s an inspiring day”, I said. And I smiled.

View the Images Gallery here.

CTI Blog - Developing a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous timber supply chain

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Tomorrow CTI supporters will gather at our latest event to take the new confederation to the next level. The CTI will start working with 45 supporters across the timber supply chain to improve the business landscape and develop a vibrant, sustainable and increasingly prosperous industry. Together with our new partners we will be mapping and developing policy in such areas as Value & Growth, Sustainability and Standards and Skills and Education. This will enable the sector to develop a clear engagement strategy going forward.

For example, the CTI will tomorrow facilitate a session at our supporters’ network event which will start scoping the value and prospects of the timber supply chain. Understanding the growth opportunities and competitive pressures in each link of the supply chain is critical. This is where CTI supporters representing these sub-sectors will provide valuable input into the process of producing a credible economic impact assessment.

It is worth remembering that when the major trade associations in the supply chain looked at these issues in the recent past the key areas for action were:

Growing our low-carbon economy (supporting carbon reduction targets)

Building more homes for Britain

Ensuring all building projects consider full carbon impact

Encouraging more planting

Based on recent economic surveys from within the supply chain, the key sub-sectors are appearing to show only very modest growth. In the light of recent Government announcements the CTI supporters will be reviewing the key areas for action and exploring where further research and/or activity is needed. This will culminate in the CTI’s report on value and growth which will identify the opportunities and threats to markets within the supply chain sectors.

Tomorrow marks the start of an exciting journey on numerous fronts. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CTI’s supporters’ network of major multi-national companies, trade associations, universities, training providers, awarding bodies, research institutes and other interested parties for their unwavering support. More network details can be found on our website.