Feedback Superwood conference

Superwood conference delegates discussed the outcomes of the day in round-table groups. They were asked to identify two positives they would take away - and one barrier that remained to taking the sector forward. Below is a summary of their feedback. Link back to the main event page, with report, pictures and presentations, here.



  • There is a much more positive climate for afforestation - and a much more unified forestry and wood voice across (and beyond) the sector; we are starting to break down silos;

  • Variety of groups on the same page - 'big umbrella' of support. Good to see Woodland Trust recognise groups have different primary objectives but common long-term goals (such as combating climate change);

  • Identification of climate change as the common driver by wide range of stakeholders - can drive woodland creation, better management and more sustainable housing development;* Greater support for presumption that we should look to plant trees, not look for reasons why we shouldn't;

  • Important to have access to different people at events like this, especially chance to meet non-foresters;

  • Politicians at event were very positive and well-informed - refreshing that they seemed to understand the sector and the issues affecting it;

  • Positive that Forestry Commission has identified land to plant; positive shared agreement to do more opportunity mapping to find right areas to plant;

  • Peri-urban and greenbelt schemes [and Northern Forest] good for the region;

  • Payment for public goods principle is good for the sector;

  • Recognition of need to address hearts and minds (and a desire to work together to do this) -  needs long-term, continuous engagement;

  • Important to nail the myth of poor-quality British timber - and important to understand that we don’t need to over-specify;

  • Strong market for wood products in the UK [being the 2nd biggest net importer of timber products in the world presents an opportunity];

  • Modern methods of timber construction becoming more mainstream - good examples on the day; stories about wood-first culture in Canada provides hope;

  • Great to hear about carbon-negative buildings;

  • Great to have strong student representation and students from different unis mixing;



  • Too little disagreement in the room. Similarity of opinions could be seen as a weakness - more challenge needed from farming community/National Park; lots of proactive people in the room - lots more who are not proactive outside it;

  • Absence of NFU/National Park/Natural England representatives [they were all asked]; farmers still broadly negative about trees, National Park has anti-forest mentality;

  • Difficult to drive up tree planting if so many designations in place - some of questionable quality? Real challenge in planting/harvesting lots more trees in North East at the moment;

  • Planning authorities in England don’t have forestry plans/need greater cooperation between local authorities and Forestry Commission;

  • Hard to get people to agree to landscape change - no strong policy in place to address this. Needs strong political will;

  • Red tape/legislation still gets in the way - tortuous process that puts people off in the first place; no consistency of response from different officers to applications to plant;

  • Still need to move much more towards presumption to plant trees/build with wood; we are a long way from having a wood culture that the public understands and connects with; biggest challenge is getting people to understand the extent of change needed and take a long-term view;

  • Strong planting in Scotland; 'wood first' policy in places like Hackney is good, but not widespread;

  • Lack of available land that is suitable for planting and competing demands, including housing; cost of land is a real barrier and can make planting unattractive;

  • Forestry still has real ‘historical baggage’ and legislators are ‘archaic’;

  • Need to tackle fragmentation of sector - need growers and processors together;

  • Need to be more positive about urban trees;

  • So many opportunities to use timber but do we have enough of it? Must increase and maximise what we get from existing sites; we are not accessing forest resource properly, despite high timber price;

  • Need to get larger housebuilders to consider timber - make economics more favourable;

  • No discussion about using hardwoods as commercial building material;

  • Ageing workforce/recruitment challenges/skills shortages  - need more contractors, etc, in the room, need more skilled people in industry to implement targets and policy;

  • Cashflow challenges - need consultation with farmers when they are looking to plant and to make a clear and convincing economic case;