Warm welcome for timber in construction roadmap

12 December 2023

A new plan to use more timber in UK construction has been warmly welcomed by Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall.

Mr Goodall said the publication of the Timber in Construction Roadmap - just 4 days after the National Wood Strategy for England was launched - created "a fantastic platform to deliver the potential of home-grown timber". 

Confor was a partner in the creation of the document, which was published as ministers discussed urbanisation at COP28 in Dubai. 

Around 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the built environment, and larger buildings can store up to 400% more carbon when built out of engineered timber products rather than concrete. 

"It's very clear that increasing domestic timber production and using more timber in construction will significantly reduce emissions from the built environment and lock up carbon in buildings, helping the UK on its path to net zero by 2050," said Mr Goodall. "At the same time, developing the wood-based economy can create rural jobs and economic growth across the UK.

"The roadmap creates a fantastic platform to deliver the potential of home-grown timber, especially alongside the National Wood Strategy for England, which the industry launched last week at our London policy conference. This is another clear sign that policy-makers are embracing the role of timber in green growth - and are committed, to use the title of our conference last week, to making sure wood is recognised as the missing low-carbon link."

Mr Goodall said that UK wood producers, given continued support and encouragement from  the UK Government, would help supply quality wood products to reduce the UK’s increasing reliance on imports, contribute positively to decarbonising the construction sector, and create more high value manufacturing jobs and businesses in rural England. "A key part of this will be securing an increased future supply of wood from England’s forests," he added.

Key actions set out in the roadmap include:

  • Improving data on timber and whole life carbon 
  • Promoting timber as a construction material
  • Boosting skills, capacity and competency across the supply chain
  • Increasing the supply of sustainable timber products
  • Addressing fire safety concerns to safely expand the use of engineered mass timber
  • Building collaboration with insurers, lenders, and warranty providers
  • Promoting innovation and high performing timber construction systems 

Forestry Minister Rebecca Pow MP said: "Investing in timber is investing in growth and levelling up. The built environment is responsible for a huge proportion of UK carbon emissions, and using home-grown timber in construction is key to reducing emissions.

"Promoting the use of timber as a building material is a key part of the government’s Net Zero Strategy. It will innovate the economy, play a role in creating green jobs and also help meet our tree-planting targets."

Forestry Commission Chief Executive Richard Stanford said: "If we are to achieve net zero we must produce more timber through home grown trees and lock up carbon using the timber in our buildings. We need to boost productive forestry in England to support timber security and reduce our over reliance on imports at the same time as tackling our nature crisis by improving biodiversity, improving water quality and giving people access to green spaces. We look forward to working closely with partners across the timber, forestry and construction industries in this hugely important area of our work for years to come."