UK risks running out of timber

August 15, 2016

UK risks running out of timber

The WWF has warned in its report that UK companies and companies supplying wood products to the UK must start sourcing their timber sustainably or risk seeing their business harmed by rapidly depleting global supplies over the coming years.

In its report WWF urges planting trees which have a commercial value, underpinning the crucial importance commercial forestry has in supply chain dynamics and also its importance in protecting natural forests overseas which are increasingly coming under intense pressure. The report cites the fact that timber suppliers have only a few years of available timber forest left as they are “running at a deficit”, having used up all the legally sustainable timber since 1990, and are now cutting down protected forests, it said.

British grown timber for domestic consumption is expected to fall from 40% to 22% by mid century, as a result of falling planting levels since the 1970s. This fall combined with expectations that global demand for timber will treble by 2050 as economies and populations grow and their need for wood and paper products also grows will have a devastating effect on protected forests.

The WWF is now calling on businesses to invest now in sustainable forest management to ensure they have access to the timber they need in the near future and its report reveals that Brazil has only 16 years of timber forests remaining, South Africa has seven years and Colombia 12 years. It also warns that primary forest is being cut down at an alarming rate, with Nigeria losing 99% of its original natural woodland since 1990, and Vietnam losing 80% since then, with negative consequences for wildlife and natural resources.

Since the 1970’s planting levels in the UK have fallen by a third and forecasts now show a serious trough appearing in domestic timber supply over the next 10 to 30 years and the WWF report states that the proportion of timber sourced in the UK will fall significantly to 22% by 2050.

The report recommends bringing unused or underused forest back into commercial management and planning forestry at a landscape scale to boost future timber supply without negatively impacting on the wildlife and recreational values of woodlands.

Julia Young, global forest and trade network manager for WWF-UK said: “We can no longer rely on our usual sources of timber as unsustainable practices are having devastating consequences on forests, and we face a real danger of not having enough timber to satisfy our growing population needs”. “Businesses need to review how their timber is sourced if they want to secure supply for the future, and keep timber prices stable” she continued.