Industry News

BWF launches new employment guidance to help joinery businesses save money and time

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has launched a set of employment guides and new draft policies to support how a joinery business can employ, manage and appraise members of staff.

The raft of documents aims to provide clear guidance on often-tricky employment matters and allows BWF members to focus on manufacture and sell high-class joinery products.

The guidance features a new employee handbook that BWF members can adapt and use, along with further information on appraisal techniques and an example contract for prospective employees. This is in addition to template policies covering areas such as social media use, company vehicles, data protection and maternity/paternity leave.

The set of guides also includes downloadable information addressing the procedures for managing ill-health absence, how to set out a clear disciplinary and redundancy process and the right way to handle employment tribunal claims.

As well as aiding the management of staff, the new resources can help attract new employees, assist with Pre-qualification Questionnaires and support compliance with the BWF Code of Conduct which sets out the principles of good practice for a woodworking or joinery business.


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AHEC launches ‘Bostanlı Footbridge' project showcasing use of thermally-modified American ash

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has launched a new case study showcasing the use thermally-modified American ash to create a new integrated coastal attraction in Izmir, Turkey.

The ‘Bostanlı Footbridge’ and ‘Bostanlı Sunset Lounge’ have been designed by Studio Evren Başbuğ Architects as part of the 'Karşıkıyı' concept created for the 'İzmirSea' coastal regeneration project. These two architectural installations, which are positioned in close proximity and in reference to each other, have generated a new, integrated coastal attraction, where the Bostanlı Creek flows into the bay, on a very special and unique spot due to the geometric form of the coastline. Opened in July 2016, the site has become one of the top public attractions in Karşıyaka, İzmir and has been embraced and visited by residents from all over the city.

The ‘Bostanlı Footbridge’, oriented in its unique position and providing a view of the bay on one side and the city on the other, has been designed with an asymmetrical cross-section. This special section is formed by several cascading thermally-modified American ash boards, produced and provided by Novawood, installed on a steel frame, allowing users to enjoy the view of the bay either sitting or sprawling. In this way, the bridge goes beyond being just an infrastructural urban element, solely used as a thoroughfare, and instead, serves as a public leisure and attraction piece in relation to its environment.

“Given that the site was so unique in terms of its location and geography, as designers we did not need any more inspiration from the outside. The 'Bostanlı Footbridge’ and 'Bostanlı Sunset Lounge’, both promise a new urban space to experience different forms of 'idleness', by employing the social, geographical and historical backgrounds of this unique location. These new coastal installations fit perfectly with the 'Easy Way of Living' vision established for the city of İzmir, by the 'İzmirSea' coastal regeneration project,” said Evren Başbuğ, Founding Partner, Studio Evren Başbuğ Architects.

“All the materials are open to the corrosive effects of salty sea water. Also as a Mediterranean city, İzmir has a relatively high percentage of sunny days, leaving the thermally-modified ash vulnerable to the ultraviolet sunlight. These conditions made us think twice at the design phase but we decided to give it a try. It has been almost a year since the opening, and we frequently visit the site to see if there is any significant material degrade, but the wood is performing well. Wood ages nicely,” added Başbug.

More details about the project are available here.

For the photo gallery, click here


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Companies need Governments' support to halt deforestation, says Fern survey

The environmental NGO Fern has issued a new report - How businesses are meeting commitments to end deforestation - asking Governments to do more to help companies whose products drive tropical deforestation.

Fern interviewed 15 major companies involved in the production and trade of four agricultural commodities which are causing the most of forest loss worldwide: palm oil, timber, cocoa and rubber.

The survey covered big name Western users and traders of agricultural commodities, such as Unilever, Nestlé, Cargill and IKEA. It also included producer companies based in developing countries which are not household names but nonetheless have considerable influence, such as APP (Asia Pulp and Paper), Sime Darby and Golden Agri-Resources

Areas where companies wanted government support in their efforts to end deforestation included:

  • having clear and consistent policies on customary land tenure;
  • better and more effectively implemented policies on land use planning and the allocation of concessions;
  • stronger protection of forests that are rich in carbon and have high conservation value;
  • tougher enforcement of existing laws designed to protect forests.

Failures of government regulation and enforcement were specifically identified as problems.

Other major issues reported in the survey included:

  • In general, the companies interviewed believed that global targets for reducing deforestation set out in the UN’s New York Declaration on Forests, and by industry bodies such as the Consumer Goods Forum, would not be met. Companies did, however, expect to deliver on promises they have made about their own operations. Achieving targets for cocoa and rubber was seen as more difficult than for timber and palm oil.
  • Social issues, including disputes over land tenure and ownership, were viewed by many companies as critical and far more difficult to resolve than environmental issues. The lack of clarity over ‘who owns the land’ was seen as a particular problem.
  • Some companies had experienced problems with investors being more focused on short-term profits; none reported pressure from investors to increase their levels of ambition.
  • The cost to companies of meeting their commitments, although difficult to calculate, are seen as significant but not excessive for large companies.
  • Systematic external monitoring of overall company commitments and progress towards them is not common, but some companies are developing systems.


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AHEC presents "Too Good to Waste", the installation that celebrates sustainability in hardwood

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has presented a new interactive installation - "Too Good Waste" - to be unveiled at Universitá degli Studi di Milano for the Milan Design Week taking place from 3 to 15 April 2017.

This bold timber installation - designed by Benedetta Tagliabue of EMBT and crafted by furniture makers Benchmark - comprises four individual and unique pieces, wrapped around the statuesque pillars of the entrance to the Aula Magna auditorium, transforming at the hand of visitors to reveal hidden pieces of fine furniture.

Too Good to Waste was created using "species that are not getting the value they should but actually are beautiful, versatile and useful woods for craftsmen", explains Sean Sutcliffe, co-founder of Benchmark. The installation features a combination of red oak, cherry, maple and tulipwood. Moreover it was graded using elements that "10 years ago would have been unthinkable in high end furniture" such as knots and sapwood.

David Venables, AHEC European Director, said: “So many wood products available to us are limited to certain colours and hardwood species; it’s depriving consumers and designers the freedom and excitement to experience what comes from using much more of the material that is available.”

"We’re tapping into an important concept that’s very relevant in today’s society: how do we make more use of materials that may not be our first choice in order to be more sustainable? This project aims to open a dialogue on these topics. Why limit oneself? Why be traditional? Why only use materials we think we like? Let’s be more imaginative!"

Benedetta Tagliabue added: “We wanted to re-create this concept in a playful and modern way by creating a wall full of surprises, where the people who inhabit the wall will be real."

"We hope that visitors, surprised by this installation, will want to interact with it, and that they will discover and use the pieces of furniture it hides: seats, tables, mirrors… We hope that their curiosity will make this piece very animated.”

For more information about the project click here.

A photo gallery is also available here.


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Trees and forests recycle water and help address climate change, new research proves

A new research paper, entitled "Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot world", shows that forests and trees play a major role on water cycles and cooler temperatures, contributing to food security and climate change adaptation.

The study - published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) - points at the important effects of trees on helping to retain water on the ground and to produce cooling moisture, which in turn have a positive impact on food security and climate change adaptation

Scientists suggest that the global conversation on trees, forests and climate needs to be turned on its head: the direct effects of trees on climate through rainfall and cooling may be more important than their well-studied capacity of storing carbon. 

“The role of trees widens,” said Dr Vincent Gitz, Director of Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). “This is very important in the context of the Paris Agreement, which recognized climate change is not only about mitigation, but also about adaptation.”

“The influence of trees on water cycles has important consequences on the global agenda for food security and climate change adaptation, at different scales,”
Dr Gitz explained. “With trees, there is no tradeoff between adaptation and mitigation, but a synergy.”

“Carbon sequestration is a co-benefit of the precipitation-recycling and cooling power of trees. As trees process and redistribute water, they simultaneously cool planetary surfaces,”
said Dr David Ellison, lead author of the study.

“Some of the more refined details of how forests affect rainfall are still being discussed among scientists of different disciplines and backgrounds," Dr Ellison remarked, "but the direct relevance of trees and forests for protecting and intensifying the hydrologic cycle, associated cooling and the sharing of atmospheric moisture with downwind locations is beyond reasonable doubt.”

Research authors will participate in a two-day virtual symposium hosted by FTA, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, on the occasion of the International Day of Forests (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22).

This virtual symposium will serve to discuss the findings of the paper and pave the way to new areas of research on the interconnection among forests, water and climate.


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