How sustainable is Britain’s forestry industry?
The UK is the second highest importer of wood in the world.
“I really worry about the destruction of trees for producing power.”
Parliament has just produced an important report on timber:
The Environmental Audit Committee announces that it is to look at the links between the sustainability of the UK’s timber industry, imports of key commodities, and global deforestation.
With global timber demand set to quadruple by 2050, and given the commitment to promote timber use in construction as part of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy, domestic demand is also likely to increase. However, the UK is the second highest importer of wood in the world, importing 82% of all its timber in 2020, of which almost a fifth was in the form of wood pellets. It is estimated that around one fifth of the UK’s imported timber footprint is from countries considered to have high social and/or environmental risks associated with their forestry practices. There are also questions around the ability of domestic supplies to meet future demand.
There are several issues…
LACK OF TIMBER SUPPLY:
The construction industry is worried:
With the UK currently importing over 80% of its wood requirement, Confor, the trade association for the UK forestry industry, warns that we could be sleepwalking into a timber shortage crisis. Stuart Goodall puts the case for planting more trees for timber production
LOWER CARBON CAPTURE:
As reported in the Guardian this week, we are not planting enough trees:
While planting rates have risen in Scotland, carbon capture figures overall have fallen every year since 2009, official data shows
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS:
There’s increasing concern about the impact of deforestation – and to what extent UK demand is fuelling it:
BURNING WOOD FOR POWER:
The Mail reports on the dismay at felling trees simply to burn them:
Sir David Attenborough, 96, warns against ‘alarming’ practice of destroying forests for wood-burning power stations, emitting 13million tonnes of carbon dioxide each YEAR
- Legendary broadcaster complained about the practice in letter seen by the Mail
- About six per cent of the UK’s power comes from wood-burning station Drax
- It emits approximately 13m tonnes of CO2 – yet claims to be a ‘green’ source
- Warning comes as Commons committee announced it would probe ‘biomass’
As a correspondent says:
I really worry about the destruction of trees for producing power: it is bad enough cutting them for things we need like furniture but at least they last for a long time in building frames and furniture!
Bamboo must be the way to go.