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MAKING THE GRADE – GROWN IN BRITAIN WOODSTOCK PROJECT

January 2016

WE IMPORT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TONNES OF HARDWOOD AND YET WE LEAVE HUGE AMOUNTS OF THE SAME MATERIAL IN OUR UNMANAGED WOODS.

OUR WOODSTOCK PROJECT IS LOOKING AT THE OPTIONS TO STREAMLINE THE COMPLEX SUPPLY CHAIN THAT HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS ONE OF THE KEY BARRIERS TO USING MORE HOMEGROWN HARDWOOD.

Recently we asked the supply chain for their help to identify what hardwood timber they use, how it is specified and what supply issues arise with homegrown sources.

We now have gathered the responses and have found some interesting key points. Including:
•  Internal and external joinery identified as main uses for hardwood
•  No surprise that Oak is the predominant species specified
•  Others include Ash, Beech, Cherry, Maple, Tulipwood, and Walnut for internal joinery, and Iroko, Sapele and Utile for external joinery
•  Reason for not specifying British timber is lack of information
•  Consistent grading seen as a key issue for all in the supply chain
•  Customers are unsure what British timbers are available
•  80% of customers specify a chain of custody standard

The main reasons why customers did not specify British timber was because there is a lack of information generally as to what timber is available (quantity and species), which is a key area that the Grown in Britain WoodStock project is working to address. However the research also showed that another key barrier on the supply side was the lack of access to consistent appearance grading information, with no common standard used for British timber.

One of our partners, the Forestry Commission, had previously recognised this, and produced a guide called ‘Making the Grade’. An online copy of the document is available here.

making the grade

 

Charlie Law, Managing Director of research consultancy Sustainable Construction Solutions, said “We always suspected that lack of information was a key reason why British timber was not specified; but to find out that there was no consistent appearance grading system in place surprised us! However we were pleased to see that this had been recognised and that the Forestry Commission had produced this excellent ‘Making the Grade’ resource, which we would advise the timber supply chain to adopt.”

A full report, detailing all the findings from the research will be issued shortly.

If you have any further thoughts or opinions on how we can improve the supply and competitiveness of home-grown timber to the UK construction market, please let us know by emailing enquiries@growninbritain.org

If you would like to see what British timbers are available come and see us at Ecobuild at the Excel in London on the 8th to 10th March 2016.

The partners in the Grown in Britain WoodStock project include Grown in Britain, the Sylva Foundation, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and many others. It is part funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Footnote:
Grown in Britain aims to:
Increase the demand for home-grown timber and substitute imports
Connect society to our wonderful wood products and the forests they come from
Increase innovation and management in our woods and forests to help meet more demand