England Tree Strategy – Open Letter

England Tree Strategy – Open Letter

Policy response · By Timber Trade Federation · 15 September 2020

The UK TTF supports the commitment in the England Tree Strategy to increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares of trees per year by 2025, and a renewed focus on tree planting in England, which remains comparatively low.

Dear Lord Goldsmith,

We are writing to you in response to the ongoing consultation on the England Tree Strategy. The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) is the UK’s foremost membership body for the timber supply chain. Our members constitute timber importers, merchants, agents and manufacturers and account for around two-thirds of the £10bn UK timber industry.

As an integral member of the construction industry, and advocates for sustainably sourced timber, we are responding to the proposed strategy to register our support for greater tree planting in the UK. We welcome the commitment to increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares of trees per year by 2025, and a renewed focus on tree planting in England, which remains comparatively low.

The TTF advocates for tree planting strategies which support the growth of the bio-economy, the use of timber in construction, and helps to combat climate change. Many of these aims are reflected and shared in the ‘supporting the economy’ pillar referenced in the England Tree Strategy, as well as through the expansion and connection of trees and woodland.

We would like to register our support, as representatives of the wider timber industry, for the response from CONFOR, who are the representative organisation for sustainable forestry in the UK. The important role of productive forests should be strongly upheld within the England Tree Strategy, particularly in terms of providing natural, social, and economic value.

In our own response we focus on Q38, on how the English Tree Strategy could encourage the use of timber in construction, and the two options specified of ‘Improving, encouraging or incentivising the growth of necessary skills such as those in green construction, design or forestry,’ and ‘Increasing the availability of knowledge and stimulate an understanding of sustainable building practices’.

Climate change means we need to change the way we build. As timber has the lowest embodied carbon of any construction material, naturally absorbing and storing carbon, it will be essential to our low carbon future. Important to successfully increasing the use of timber in UK construction will be creating the right policy environment.

We have outlined in more detail how the Government should work with the timber industry in the report ‘How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis’, from the APPG for the Timber Industries to achieve this aim. As has been recognised by the Government in this consultation on the England Tree Strategy, successful outcomes will require a multidisciplinary approach.

We believe the England Tree Strategy should link into an overarching policy environment within the UK which grows the market for the use of sustainable natural materials – including timber – and the UK bioeconomy, which includes ecotourism, biotech, and the emergence of cutting edge sustainable careers, many of which are recognised in the Government’s national bioeconomy strategy to 2030.

Domestic timber is already readily absorbed into the UK market, with innovative firms in the UK finding novel ways to integrate UK grown timber into construction. The England Tree Strategy’s key role in supporting the future growth and diversification of the bio-economy will be through building consensus and goodwill between the government, councils, schools, colleges, universities and firms around tree planting and the use of natural materials.

By partnering with a wide array of stakeholders, the England Tree Strategy will have an opportunity to showcase both the social and economic value of tree planting, which when combined with the right financial support, will help encourage landowners towards these types of land uses.

At the heart of this interdisciplinary approach should be expanding the knowledge of wood and wood technologies and products in the UK, and connecting tree planting in England, in productive forests as well as areas focused on restoring ancient woodlands, to our future prosperity.

Yours sincerely,

David Hopkins | CEO, Timber Trade Federation

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