Ethically sourced hardwood timber in the UK
We at International Timber realise the importance of ethically sourced hardwood timber. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest are lost each year. This is leading to increased environmental issues including global warming which is creating rising seas and increased coastal flooding, longer and more damaging wildfire seasons and an increase in extreme weather events.
This is detrimental to the legal hardwood timber consumer and property market, as hardwood has become a staple part of day-to-day life in the UK, making up a vast amount of our furniture, flooring and construction efforts.
In this feature, we’re going to look into the issues surrounding the mass-harvesting of hardwood timber, and the importance of ethically sourced hardwood timber in the UK.
The current state of hardwood sourcing
In 2019, forests cover roughly 30% of the earth’s surface, and experts believe that all rainforests could be gone in as little as 40 years due to deforestation – an estimated one and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second.
Along with the environmental negatives that are borne from this, there’s also a huge economic downside to the illegal harvesting of hardwood timber. The World Bank has claimed that the annual global market loses $10 billion annually from illegal logging, with governments losing an additional $5 billion in revenues – money that could go towards investment into end illegal deforestation once and for all.
Unfortunately, things aren’t too green in the UK either, as newly released figures show that 3,700 acres of woods were planted in England last year, well below desired targets to increase woodland in the country. Because of this, deforestation is highly likely across the region.
That being said, there are a lot of organisations, laws and initiatives occurring across the country to limit the illegal sourcing of hardwood timber.
Under EU law, The EU Timber Regulation aims to reduce illegal logging by ensuring that no illegal timber or timber products can be sold in the EU – safeguarding the UK against illegal logging. It was created as part of the EU's FLEGT Action Plan.
Similarly, in 2013, laws were introduced that enable inspectors from the National Measurement Office to seize illegally harvested timber and impose penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment. Naturally this has acted as a huge deterrent to those who source their timber illegally, however this law only has purpose if inspectors are diligent in their examinations.
Lower tier initiatives include those from Chatham House, who have been working on forest governance, illegal logging and deforestation since 2000, undertaking in-depth research and analysis and bringing together experts and stakeholders at meetings and conferences. They also host an Illegal Logging Portal, where interested parties can follow the latest news, research and events related to these issues.
International Timber’s hardwood sourcing – our promise
As part of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution, International Timber operates within its Policy for Sustainability. This policy is designed to continually improve our position as a sustainable provider of building materials by reducing environmental impact, being committed to the well-being of stakeholders and always considering the economic effect of our operations.
As part of this Policy for Sustainability, International Timber works under an Environmental Timber Policy which defines the ethical and responsible conduct that we should uphold, and sets common operating rules. These include:
- Protection of biodiversity and local populations
- Assurance of timber legality, in accordance with European Regulation FLEGT
- Promotion for certified or responsibly managed timber
To read more about International Timber’s Environmental Timber Policy, follow this link.
At International Timber we are fully aware of our obligations as an importer under the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) which makes it a criminal offence to place illegally logged timber and timber products on the European Market.
International Timber is completely transparent about our timber logging, and we’re always happy to discuss our sourcing methods and measures with customers.
And that’s it
If you’d like to speak to a timber consultant about ethically sourced hardwood timber in the UK, or you have any other burning questions or queries, get in touch and we’ll be able to help you out.