Home-grown timber for construction

Researchers have been awarded funding to look at ways of helping the UK construction industry use more home-grown timber.

The UK is a major importer of timber, with the vast majority of the timber used for building coming from sustainably managed forests overseas.

However, the UK’s own forests remain relatively under utilised as a potential source of renewable building materials – even though they produce wood suitable for the construction of houses, sports centres, supermarkets, apartment blocks and bridges.

Now, researchers from Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Timber Engineering have been awarded £50,000 from 10 UK forestry and forest-products companies – a sum matched by the Forestry Commission and Scottish Enterprise – to look at ways of better utilising the nation’s forests.

The funding will be used to support a range of timber research – including work into the properties of the Sitka spruce and other species – with the aim of helping to create a more competitive and profitable UK forest-products industry.

The properties of wood vary depending on how trees are managed. This makes it important to find ways to encourage trees to grow wood with the properties engineers most value, as well as identifying which trees produce the best construction timber so that they are not simply used for lower-value uses such as wood fuel.

Dr John Moore, principal research fellow at Edinburgh Napier’s Centre for Timber Engineering, said: ’The forest and timber industry is vital to the economic and environmental sustainability of the UK and has a significant contribution to make towards the drive for low-carbon and affordable housing.’

The industry contributors are Adam Wilson & Sons, BSW Timber, the Confederation of Forest Industries UK (ConFor), Euroforest, Howie Forest Products, James Callander & Son, James Jones and Sons, John Gordon & Son, Scottish Woodlands and UPM-Tilhill.