WORLD leaders gathered for a climate change summit in Glasgow have been told to recognise the pressing need to use wood in construction. 

Trade association bosses are leading calls for action as COP26 hosts its first ever Built Environment Day at the United Nations event. 

With the built environment responsible for nearly 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions, using low-carbon renewable materials such as timber is essential for limiting the impact of global heating, industry figures say. 

READ MORE: Time for Timber: manifesto calls for greater use of wood

The call is being led by Timber Development UK - the trade association formed from the merger of the UK Timber Trade Federation and TRADA - and comes on the back of the Time for Timber Manifesto and Tropical Timber Accord.

Forestry Journal:

Timber Development UK chief executive, David Hopkins, said: “While it has been excellent to see the essential role global forests play in preventing climate change recognised in the first week of COP26, we must connect this work with the sustainable and circular economy for forest products such as timber – and this should happen today.

“Our built environment is responsible for nearly 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions, yet often it has been sorely missed as an area of focus for emissions reductions. We can applaud the inclusion of our built environment in COP26, but now the role of timber should take centre stage.

“Sustainable timber production ensures forests are maintained with many trees planted for every one harvested. These products also store carbon, and can help transform our built environment into a form of carbon capture and storage as opposed to a major form of emissions." 

READ MORE: UK Forest Market Report to be launched during round table discussion

Launched by the global timber industry over the last two weeks, the Time for Timber Manifesto and Tropical Timber Accord lay out the case for building with wood. They state that using the material in construction has a range of climate benefits for the built environment, as it:

1.                 Sequesters carbon in forests as trees grow

2.                 Stores carbon in harvested wood products 

3.                 Substitutes for carbon intensive materials such as steel, concrete and plastics

4.                 Drives sustainable forest management leading to greater growth 

5.                 Contributes to a circular economy as wood products can be reused, recycled and recovered for low-carbon energy at end-of-life

Sustainable timber is a proven, realistic solution for preserving, growing, and extending global forests, whether in Europe, North America, or the tropics, and is based on existing, quickly scalable business models and proven technology. 

Forestry Journal: David Hopkins David Hopkins

Mr Hopkins added: “I urge policymakers to read the newly released ‘Time for Timber’ manifesto which outlines how we can use wood in construction to revolutionise our cities – for all building types – including for tall timber buildings, and the policies to supercharge timber’s potential.

“By building more using sustainable timber, we can improve construction practice, lower carbon emissions, improve health outcomes, and deliver improved ecological outcomes.”