Homegrown wood campaign earns Innovate UK funding

A campaign which aims to encourage consumers to buy wood products that were grown and processed in the UK has received Government funding to improve the nation's hardwood supply chain.

Grown in Britain, which launched at 2013, has received financial support from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. The money will be put towards a new project to improve the flow of hardwood timber from UK woodlands.

Funding will be supplied through the Innovate UK Supply Chain Integration in Construction bid which is looking to fund projects up to £150k.

Grown in Britain’s chief executive Dougal Driver said: “There are more than 30 million tonnes of timber in unmanaged woodlands throughout the UK, which the project will begin the process of unlocking. 

“With the UK relying on high levels of imported timber this Grown in Britain project is vital to breaking down barriers within the supply chain for home-grown hardwood, making it much more accessible and readily available.” 

Supply hub

The project, which is specifically aimed at construction supply chains, will have five main work streams: –

Market research to establish timber species and section sizes being purchased by the UK construction industry
Timber stock funding options that will look to increase roundwood and sawn timber stocks
Timber supply hub that will be able to locate available timber in independent saw mills around the UK
Material efficiencies, looking at how sawn wood yields could be improved
Industry engagement, to unite and galvanise the full support of the UK timber industry

Project partners include the BRE, the Forestry Commission, forest and wood charity the Sylva Foundation, building contractor Willmott Dixon, and representatives of the timber and merchant sectors The project is due to start in October 2015, and will run for 12 months.  

More than 80% of all of the timber and timber products used in the UK are imported, with construction being one of the largest users. Grown in Britain’s aim is to reduce the sectors reliance on imported wood and increase the use of home grown British timber to help expand the UK’s woodlands as well as bring unmanaged woodlands back into use. 

Shining example

As a best-practice example, the organisation also this week showcased the completion of a £1.2m construction project in Bristol which sourced 95% of its hardwood from timber grown in Britain.

The Ashton – a 17th-century pub – was rebuilt with 95% of its hardwood sourced from timber grown in Britain. The wood was milled locally and manufactured by fit-out contractor Harvey in its joinery workshop in Bristol.

Driver said the pub project was clear evidence of the role the UK construction industry can play in supporting the use of British timber for the benefit of the environment, economy and society at large.

“By using local wood from sustainably managed woodland the project stands out as an exemplar for the construction industry,” he said. “Not only has it prevented thousands of miles in transportation of imported wood, it saved money for the client and significantly reduced the builds carbon footprint.

“There is a very strong market for quality timber within the UK construction industry and this project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved with locally sourced high quality timber.”

New body

Last week, edie report that the ethical, social and environmental risks in the timber supply chain are to be addressed by a newly-formed umbrella organisation which aims to provide a unified voice for the timber industry and ultimately grow the UK’s low-carbon economy.

The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) will represent the timber supply chain from forest to end-of-life recycling and energy recovery; consolidating and enhancing the various links in the timber supply chain and building more relationships with new industry partners.

Luke Nicholls

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