Welcome news on global forests - but leadership needed at home

Confor has welcomed the global leaders’ declaration to protect global forests at COP26 - and urged the UK to take greater responsibility for its own future wood supply.

More than 100 world leaders will pledge to end (and reverse) deforestation by 2030 in the first major announcement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow - in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, said: “I'm delighted to see forests at the heart of discussions about the future of our planet - recognition of the huge significance of forests and wood in tackling climate change.

"However, responsibility for global forests must start at home."

The UK currently imports 80% of the wood products it uses - the second largest net importer globally after China, and while global demand for wood is set to soar, the UK is forecast to produce less home-grown wood in the decade leading up to 2050.

“With global demand for timber predicted to continue rising significantly, the way to prevent pressure on our fragile forests overseas is to grow more wood of our own," said Mr Goodall. “This means planting more forests in the UK specifically to produce more of the wood that the UK needs."

Enormous quantities of wood will be needed to decarbonise house-building and construction and to substitute more energy-intensive materials like concrete and steel, Mr Goodall explained.

He added: “The UK Government is talking the talk on forests and wood, but not walking the walk. If it doesn’t do more to produce wood here in the UK, then it’s signalling its intent to export the UK’s own forest footprint to other countries – that isn’t the global leadership the planet needs.

“By growing millions more trees in well-managed, modern and mixed-species forests, the UK can create rural jobs, support the fight against climate change and deliver benefits for people and wildlife at the same time. It’s a win-win-win - turning the triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic benefits into a triple top line.

“By doing this, the UK Government really can start to play a genuine leadership role in the future of our global forests.”