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Keeping wood local: the new Grown in Britain licencing scheme

Charlie Law 13 Oct 2014

We are probably all aware of the FSC tick logo, which has been around for over 20 years now, and many will also be aware of PEFC. Although these timber ‘chain of custody’ schemes will confirm that your timber or timber product is from a legal and sustainable source, they do not always tell you where it came from. However there is now a Grown in Britain licencing scheme that can confirm your timber is grown in Britain in a similar way to the Red Tractor scheme for food.

Grown in Britain aims to create a forest culture in the UK, and this means improving the connection between the general public and the role their local woodlands can play in a sustainable economy. However, there is work to do. 55% of people still believe that cutting down forests and woodland makes climate change worse, even if they are replanted1. In fact, sustainable forest management is good for the environment. It’s actually better to cut trees down and plant new ones as growing trees absorb more CO2 than mature trees. It’s also good for biodiversity – by thinning woods in a managed way, more light reaches the forest floor, allowing young trees and new wildlife habitats to develop. Also only 42% of people agreed that using wood for building instead of concrete or steel was better for climate change1. In fact, building with timber significantly reduces the embodied carbon of a project (the carbon used to manufacture products and transport them to site). Wood for Good have a Build with Carbon campaign, trying to change the public’s perception to understand the benefits of using timber. 

 Wood for Good's Build with Carbon campaign have produced a series
of animations highlighting the benefits of using wood in construction  

There is also now even more pressure on contractors to source products locally, with building certification schemes such as LEED setting a target for materials to come from within 500 miles, and it is only a matter of time before BREEAM probably follows suit. Some clients are already setting their own specific targets.

But how do you know if your timber is managed sustainably and locally sourced? Well up until recently, unless you knew the local saw mill, this has been difficult. However the launch of the Grown in Britain licencing scheme now means that you can be sure that your timber has been grown in Britain, in a similar way to the Red Tractor scheme guarantees the source of your food. 

It all starts with a certified woodland, which in most cases may already be FSC and/or PEFC certified, however the minimum requirement is that the woodland must have an approved UKFS compliant management plan along with a felling licence or other felling approval. The advantage of the Grown in Britain scheme is that any additional cost to woodland owner is small in comparison to FSC/PEFC, with the fee being waived altogether for woodlands of less than 20 hectares.

Where does your timber come from?

Once the logs leave the woodland they are tracked through the various processes in a similar way to existing chain of custody schemes, by identifying Grown in Britain timber on the delivery tickets and invoices. The final product, such as a sheet of MDF or a kitchen cupboard, can also display the Grown in Britain logo. 

This traceability is important as customers, especially building clients, need evidence that their product or building contains the material they specify. Several UK Contractors Group members, including BAM, have already signed up to a Grown in Britain preference statement, and large clients, such as British Land have similar statements.

Therefore, if you want to be sure that your timber is locally sourced and support the local economy, make sure you specify Grown in Britain timber in addition to you normal FSC and/or PEFC requirements. If you are a woodland owner, or part of the timber supply chain, make sure you apply for Grown in Britain certification so we can continue to work with you.

For more information on the Grown in Britain Standard visit the Grown in Britain website, and for more information on Building with carbon, and to see how woodland management and building with timber benefits climate change, visit the Wood for Good website.

1 Forestry Commission Forestry Statistics 2014





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