Industry embracing responsibly- sourced timber, says WWF report

21 July 2015

The construction sector has scored highest in a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) into how companies in the UK sustainably source timber.

The WWF’s 2015 Timber Scorecard assessed 128 UK contractors, retailers, manufacturers and traders that buy timber and timber products on their publicly available buying policies, and performance from 2013 onwards. Each company was given a score from zero trees, meaning no apparent progress on sustainable timber and timber products, to three trees, where more than 70% certified sustainable wood has been sourced. 

Construction companies scored extremely well against those from other sectors with all the businesses in the sector appearing in the top 40% of those reviewed. According to the WWF report, construction companies “scored particularly well on overall commitment and on sustainable timber purchased”.

Main contractors Carillion and Mace Group both received the highest score of three trees, along with trade supplier Travis Perkins, with Willmott Dixon scoring 2+ trees and Balfour Beatty, Lend Lease, Skanska and house builder Redrow Homes all scoring 2 trees.

Key sectors and their progress

Bill Butcher, director of the Green Building Store, welcomed the survey results, telling Construction Manager: “The scorecard shows that the construction industry is now embracing responsibly-sourced timber and is actually leading industry demand for it. Green Building Store introduced the first FSC 100% timber window into the UK in 2005, and we are committed to using FSC timber for our timber window and door ranges.”

Speaking to Construction Manager, Andrew Waugh, partner at CLT specialist architect, Waugh Thistleton, highlighed the importance of material certification to the construction industry: “This is one of the few areas that the construction industry is up to speed on. For us it is all about the long-term sustainability of our forests and therefore our planet – there is not one without the other.

“As global industry better understands the implications of climate change and government acts on them trees will become one of the planet’s most vital resources. As such the forests and their eco-systems will become more evidently essential to us. Insisting upon responsible sourcing of timber and paper must be explicit in every industry. Fully verified material certification – generally FSC – is essential for the global construction industry.”

How the survey breaks down

Environmental consultant Charlie Law, member of the executive committee at pro-UK timber organisation Grown in Britain, was delighted with the results and told Construction Manager that the industry may actually be doing even better than the survey suggests.

“As someone who has spent the last 12 years promoting responsibly sourced timber, and putting together monitoring systems and guidance for the UKCG and others, it is great to see construction as the highest scoring industry.”

“This backs up the UKCG commitments to responsibly source materials, being driven by Steve Cook. One thing I would say is that the picture is probably even better as there are large contractors missing from the survey who are also doing good work in this area [BAM and Kier are two noticeable exceptions]. We need to ensure the rest of the industry follows the lead of those listed and maintain a good chain of custody records to allow the reporting of sustainable timber.

Carillion and Mace, that both scored the highest rating of three tress, were proud of their records on sustainable sourcing.

Andrew Kinsey, sustainability director at Mace told CM: "We are very pleased to have received the top grade. While I expected Mace to score highly, as it reflects the due diligence we carry out on every project. We want to be a leader in sustainability as it matches our clients objectives, helps to protect the environment and local communities we source from, and is the right thing to do.”

Carillion's chief sustainability officer, David Picton, echoed his sentiments and backed the WWF's campaign: “We are fully committed to the responsible sourcing of timber. Our projects and business units report quarterly on their timber usage, we support the WWF campaign and use timber from sources that meet Forest Stewardship Council standards. Timber reporting is embedded in our 2020 Sustainability Leadership Plan, and we are working with our suppliers to encourage them to meet the same standards.”

Overall the survey showed a far less positive picture for the whole of the UK with 57% of companies reviewed falling into WWF’s lower categories and “showing very limited or no action being taken to ensure the timber products they sell are not contributing to illegal logging or deforestation”.

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