Timber from threatened rainforests in Brazil, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea is used in making plywood and imported into the UK according to the WWF 2007 report which estimated then that around £712m a year was spent on illegal wood (WWF Report: Illegal Logging – Cut It Out!).
Since 2007 we have seen the introduction of the EUTR (EU Timber Regulation) and the expectation was that levels of illegally timber would reduce reduce significantly. However, an internet post from April 2014 by the Lesprom Network (a business community for the global timber trade) suggests this has not been the case:
After all the speculation about how the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) might affect EU plywood imports in 2013, the most surprising feature of the trade is how little it actually changed, ITTO reported. In fact, EU imports of hardwood plywood last year were almost exactly the same as in 2012. The EU28 imported 2.163 million cubic metres of hardwood plywood from outside the region in 2013, just 0.1% less than the previous year. There were changes in relative market share of different suppliers into the EU market during 2013. But these changes were also quite limited and certainly much less dramatic than in previous years.
And all the time, more and more vital habitats for threatened species are being destroyed.
There are viable alternatives to imported plywood, made in the UK using Forest Stewardship Council-approved timber, one of the best being FSC Certified Norbord Sterling OSB (Oriented Strand Board).
The wood is obtained from coniferous species grown in forests that meet exacting and independent Forest Stewardship Council criteria.
Logs are typically cut from plantation thinnings or from the top third of the tree leaving the rest to be converted into sawn wood. This way of managing woodlands and forests helps the growth and sustainability of the trees, plants and wildlife.
The forests from which we obtain the wood for Sterling OSB provide a flourishing habitat for a wide range of specialised plant species, mosses and rare fungi.
A wide range of mammals such as the red deer, the red squirrel and rare species such as the pine marten and wildcat also thrive in these forests. Bird species including the capercaille, crested tits, crossbills and other pinewood specialists such as the osprey and goldeneye can be found and insects such as the spectacular Timberman, a longhorn beetle with antennae more than 10 cm across.
Native pinewoods also support good populations of nationally rare dragonfly, up to 7 species of wood ant, and a range of butterflies including green hairstreak, Scotch Argus and several fritillary species.
By specifying Sterling OSB instead of plywood, companies can contribute to the continuing robust wildlife populations of forests in the UK and also help stop the wider destruction of wildlife habitats in the world’s rain forests.
But only if wood from Britain’s forests hasn’t been swallowed up by the energy industry to burn to generate electricity.
As our campaigns develop and become more public, we hope that people will support our initiatives and join us in calling for the Government to take heed of the issues we raise.