Environmental issues are part of everyday living and work life and high on the political agenda. Much focus is now on protecting and saving the planet. With the growing trend for sustainable construction, increasingly architects and specifers are under pressure to reduce their environmental footprint.
Timber is one of the greenest building materials known to man! Forests are home to a vast majority of our plants and animals, supporting many local communities and indigenous people. Timber stores carbon and if buying timber is carried out through responsible sourcing practices then forests mitigate climate change. Responsible sourcing can make an important contribution towards sustainable forest management and help to increase the market for timber products which have been independently certified as coming from legal and sustainable sources.
Government policies and EU legislation are also playing a key role through the development of timber procurement policies, such as that developed by the UK Government and the EU's Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan which has seen a number of initiatives developed under its umbrella. These include the Timber Trade Action Plan (TTAP), the EU Timber Regulation and the development of bilateral Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with key timber exporters to the EU.
Further afield, the US Government passed an amendment to the Lacey Act in 2008 which puts legal obligations on US timber importers to ensure their timber products are legally sourced. Other countries around the world are also following; In June 2010 Switzerland passed the "Declaration du bois", an obligation to declare the species and origin of wood products. Australia' s policy to combat illegal logging is going thorugh parliament during 2011.
International agreements between Governments, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), play a complementary role in efforts to ensure sustainable forest management by monitoring and regulating the trade in a number of commercially traded species to ensure their continued survival in the wild. A guide to the timber species imported into the UK including their common names, botanical names and geographical origin can be obtained by clicking here.