Sustainable timber sources running out

10th August 2016

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Adrian Buckland

Businesses should invest in sustainable forest management to secure timber stocks as supplies in many countries are on the verge of exhaustion, WWF has warned.

Without urgent action, UK businesses that have failed to adequately plan for continuity of their timber resource could be left exposed with fewer commercial options, the NGO said in a new report.

Global demand for timber is expected to triple by 2050 due to a growing appetite in developing economies for wood and paper products, WWF said. National targets for the use of bioenergy will also have a significant impact on demand for timber and will lead to higher prices.

To be classified as sustainable, WWF says timber must be sourced from forests where:

  • forest management practices ensure growth exceeds removal rates;
  • harvesting does not degrade ecosystems; and
  • the rights of people who depend on forests for their livelihoods are protected.

According to estimates by WWF, the supply of legal and sustainable timber is declining in a number of locations. Brazil has only 16 years’ supply remaining, while South Africa and Mexico have just seven and nine years respectively.

WWF says the construction industry and manufacturers of fencing, paper some furniture in the uK generally use certified timber but that wood for flooring and seating tend come from sources where forestry practices are not monitored.

Julia Young, global forest and trade network manager at WWF said that the UK could no longer rely on its usual sources of timber as unsustainable practices are devastating forests. ‘Businesses need to review how their timber is sourced if they want to secure supply for the future, and keep timber prices stable,’ she said.

Young said the business benefits of sourcing timber from sustainable forests includes being ahead of regulation and raising finance more easily, as investors shy away from the risk of unrestrained depletion of natural resources.

In order to ensure that timber is sustainably sourced, Young recommends that businesses support their supply chain or the actual producer to move towards sustainable forest management and certification by paying a small premium or agreeing long-term contracts.


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