The Environmental Audit Committee has recommended increasing wood in construction and expanding UK productive forestry to help achieve the 2050 target.

In its latest report - 'Seeing the wood for the trees: the contribution of the forestry and timber sectors to biodiversity and net zero goals' – the Environmental Audit Committee has recommended increasing wood in construction and expanding UK productive forestry to help achieve net zero by 2050.  

Over the last year, MPs have heard from a range of industry experts on the best ways to scale up a sustainable, resilient domestic timber sector. The inquiry comes following the Climate Change Committee’s recognition of timber as crucial to decarbonising the built environment. 

The EAC has called for greater use of “long-term” timber in construction, stating the government should “support” the sawmilling sector to transition towards “producing a higher percentage of construction grade timber products and engineered timber”.  

This is due to timber’s long lifespan as a construction product and its essential role in substituting high carbon materials such as steel and concrete in the built environment.  

In the report, the EAC also notes there are potential long-term timber supply risks, with high international demand and limited domestic supply likely to squeeze the future UK timber market. The EAC has called on the government to increase UK productive forestry through streamlined planting and commercial softwood species targets. 

The report, however, adds it is “unlikely” that domestic timber production will replace imports, with timber from forest economies like Sweden, Finland, and Latvia essential to matching long-term demand.  

Throughout the report, the EAC called for the government to publish its timber in construction roadmap “as soon as possible” to outline how we can expand low-carbon timber construction in the UK.  

Timber Development UK CEO and Confederation of Timber Industries Director, David Hopkins, said: “It is great to see MPs in the Environmental Audit Committee once again acknowledge the pivotal role timber must play in decarbonising construction in the UK. 

“The committee is right to argue for increased domestic timber production, with productive forests in the UK lagging well behind other European states.  

“However, as we have mentioned in our latest APPG report, increasing UK timber supply should be incentivised to complement, rather than replace, imported timber as UK supply alone cannot match demand, even in the medium/long term. 

“Additionally, the UK plays a positive role as a net importer of timber, with effective demand-side regulations promoting forest growth around the world. 

“The Environmental Audit Committee is a hugely influential advisory body, with its previous report – Building to net zero – culminating in the creation of the Timber in Construction Working Group.  

“I look forward to seeing how the government responds to this latest report as well as the release of the Timber in Construction Roadmap later this year.” 

Structural Timber Association CEO and CTI Director, Andrew Carpenter, said: “It is excellent to see the Environmental Audit Committee recognise the importance of using more timber in construction. 

“Timber is best used in long term construction products like timber frame which have a much higher carbon storage potential than other short term uses.  

“We also welcome the call to publish the Timber in Construction Roadmap as soon as possible. 

“With Europe witnessing record temperatures this week, it is now more important than ever we expand low-carbon timber construction and decarbonise one of our biggest polluters – the built environment.”