Timber gap is huge 'conundrum' for UK

27 October 2022

The growing gap between the global supply and demand for timber is creating a "conundrum" for the UK, Confor's Chief Executive told a parliamentary committee.

Stuart Goodall told the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that the UK would need to use 78% more timber by 2050 if demand continues to rise at current rates. This is largely fuelled by the need to use more wood in construction, to help decarbonise the UK's construction industry and contribute to meeting net zero targets.

Yet the supply of wood is forecast to decline, and the UK - particularly England - has planted almost no large forests targeted at wood production for the last 30 years.

Mr Goodall was speaking to the EAC as part of its inquiry into sustainable timber and deforestation. The inquiry is important to Confor as it picks up on issues repeatedly highlighted by the industry - a lack of domestic timber production against a backdrop of rising global demand, which will inevitably put pressure on fragile forests overseas.

A new report ahead of climate summit COP27 showed that "the gap between timber demand and supply is going to grow significantly at a global level," Mr Goodall said.

He told the committee: "This rapidly rising demand for timber does raise a concern for us [about] pressure on fragile forests. It's going to encourage illegal logging, it's going to have negative habitat implications. And we do want to use more wood because [otherwise] we're not going to achieve net zero. So we have this conundrum, which is why this inquiry is extremely important."