Confor warns of future crisis in wood supply

15 February 2022

Confor warns more tree planting is urgently needed to avoid UK facing crisis in wood supply. Against a backdrop of surging global demand, the UK is set to experience growing demand for wood in the run up to 2050 just as future supplies of domestic wood are forecast to fall. Without urgent action to plant more trees in England to produce wood, the UK will struggle to decarbonise sectors like house-building and meet its net zero target.

  • UK imports around 80% of its wood requirement, making it the world’s second largest importer of wood
  • UK has offshored its wood supply and is vulnerable to security of supply to meet construction and manufacturing needs
  • Government needs to provide greater support to productive planting industry to produce more wood
  • There are multiple benefits for climate, environment, jobs and industry through more productive planting
  • Recent research demonstrates public support for greater domestic timber production and re-forestation

Forestry and wood trade body, Confor (Confederation of Forest Industries),is warning that the UK faces declining supplies of home grown wood in the near future due to lack of productive tree planting. Currently the UK only grows around 20% of its wood requirement, leaving it exposed to a very significant balance (~80%) needing to be imported from the US, Sweden, Norway and other countries. The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wood, importing £7.5 billion annually. 

The UK has ideal conditions for growing wood to build low-carbon homes and is a global leader in certifying that its forests are sustainably managed. While around three quarters of Scottish homes are built from Scottish timber, the use of home-grown wood in England is only around 25%.