Good news for England’s Timber Growers

Two new documents are potentially good news for timber growers in England, says Royal Forestry Society Chief Executive Christopher Williams.

By Wendy Necar · December 18, 2023

Together, he says, the National Wood Strategy and the Timber in Construction Roadmap could create new markets for more timber. They will also support the management of woodlands that are resilient to climate change and new pests and diseases.

And they will help build links across supply chains to invest in skilled workforces able to grow, manage and use home grown timber.

The Royal Forestry Society fed into the National Wood Strategy and is proud to endorse it. The focus of the Strategy is on developing productive forestry in England, and it describes how as a nation, we can plant, grow and harvest more timber.

Christopher Williams says: “The development of a National Wood Strategy  is very welcome and much needed if we are to realise all the benefits from managed and productive woodland. This includes achieving national net zero and biodiversity targets.

“We need more land committed to woodland. That new woodland needs to be resilient and well managed. To do that we need sustained investment in the sector and its workforce.

“I hope this Strategy can be seen as a long-term compact for Government and Industry to line up behind. It will ensure the country fully benefits from the great potential of a thriving forestry sector.

“The National Wood Strategy clearly articulates what is needed to achieve these ends and more. The Royal Forestry Society is pleased to support it.”


The Timber in Construction Roadmap outlines seven priority actions.

It calls upon Government and Sectors to improving data on timber and whole life carbon and to:

  • assess options and explore opportunities by 2025for scaling innovations in housing construction using English timber
  • promote homegrown wood-based construction products as a positive contribution to net zero
  • promote English forestry as a green investment opportunity.

Only 9% of English new build homes were timber framed in 2019 in compared to 92% in Scotland. The UK remains the world’s third largest importer of timber.

The report also states: “More work is needed to better promote and utilise the strength and density of homegrown C16 softwood in construction.”

It adds: “The current greater market familiarity with the higher grade C24 timber — the common grade of imported timber — leads to overspecification.”

Christopher Williams comments: “There are important commitments to improve visibility of forestry and timber construction as careers or career specialisms at school and throughout further and higher education.

“We know that supply of homegrown softwood timber will start to decline in 2025 because of a shortage of planting over the past decades. Promoting a better understanding and use of C16 timber will help widen markets.”

“If implemented well, we believe these Reports will help England to meet targets of 16.5% woodland cover. At the same time, they outline a way to reduce carbon impact of construction using construction techniques based around timber that is grown at home and not imported.”