Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis, Head of the Centre for Wood Science at Edinburgh Napier University, said it was important to remember that wood had many uses - as well as high-profile timber housing, there was a need for fencing, pallets, energy, the retro-fitting of properties mentioned by Paul Brannen, and much more. "When we talk about building with timber, we need to remember we need all this wood and much more besides. Only about 20% of our demand [for wood products] is met by home-grown timber." [the UK currently produces about 10-12 million cubic metres of wood every year].
Dr Ridley-Ellis stressed that total timber self-sufficiency in the UK was an unrealistic goal, adding: "Even if we met our current planting targets and planted entirely productive conifer species, we would still not be self-sufficient for 200 years - and that's where we are now, not taking into account growing demand.
"Fundamentally, timber is renewable and, on the face of it, plentiful - but we can forget about the reality on the supply side. Renewable is not the same as infinite. The trees we plant now will not be used for decades and will set the standard for future generations."
He stressed that there was a lot of criticism that home-grown timber grew too fast and was not of good enough quality - but this did not affect their density or strength.
"Trees grown here are suitable for much of our construction - as long as we do not over-specify," he said. "We need to use what that is good enough - not better than it needs to be."