Proposed content of the National Wood Strategy for England for comment
7 December 2022
The National Wood Strategy for England (NWSE) will be created by the England Forest and Wood Based Industry Leadership Group. The group, created and facilitated by Confor, currently comprises industry leaders in the wood supply chain from seed to structure, as well as representation from DEFRA, Forestry Commission and Forestry England.
Tom Barnes, the Managing Director of Vastern Timber and Andy Leitch, the Deputy Chief Executive of Confor will author the Strategy.
The NWSE has a single focus on the planting, growing, harvesting and processing of conifer and broadleaf trees in England for the production of timber and other wood-based products, and where possible, the reuse of wood.
Covering a 40-year period, the strategy will highlight the opportunities for innovation and growth in a sector that can contribute positively to net zero, biodiversity gain, housing and health.
Why is the NWSE necessary now? For far too long productivity in English woodlands has been side-lined as a policy objective. As a result, tree planting targets have been routinely missed, the quality of the establishment of woodland creation has often been poor, and a generation of wood growth has been lost.
As a country, we’re currently importing 80% net of our wood products. This is not sustainable in the long term. As construction and other industries continue decarbonising, the World Bank forecasts global timber demand will quadruple by 2050, global competition for timber will intensify and the availability of UK-grown wood is forecast to drop significantly in 2040.
To confront these challenges and realise the many opportunities that stem from a vibrant forestry and wood sector, we must take productivity back up to its rightful place. This has to be one of the key objectives of woodland creation in England, alongside biodiversity gain and carbon sequestration.
The NWSE will outline the necessary steps for increasing the nation’s wood production and utilisation. At the same time, it will highlight the benefits of productive forestry and the positive contribution this will make to our country’s strategic objectives.
We hope this Strategy will usher in a change of attitude towards growing and harvesting trees for wood production, and the greater utilisation of homegrown wood for added value and low carbon products. We will argue that such a shift in attitude will unblock restrictions, unlock private capital and realise the full potential of our English woodlands and forests, and ultimately drive innovation and growth in wood processing and manufacture in existing and emerging wood-based products.
This is an opportunity for all interested parties to comment on the proposed content of the strategy. The deadline for comments is the 11 January. The NWSE will be published on 31 March 2023.