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Rising demand for timber is fuelling pressure on the supply chain in UK, rather than limitations with the supply itself.

Among the statistics shared by a report released by UK’s Timber Trade Federation, are those for softwood imports; more softwood was imported into the UK in 2020 (6,608) than in either 2019 (6,394) or 2018 (6,594), (the figures in 000s of cubic metres).

The statement reports that global demand for timber for house-building, DIY projects, garden improvements, home extensions, home offices and other refurbishments has continued,  and that UK-grown timber supplies are insufficient to replace the levels of imported timber demanded by UK construction and refurbishment.

Brexit-related factors are also affecting the ability of importers to import, as around 80% of the softwood used in Britain’s building, fit-out and refurbishment sectors comes in from countries in the European Union and further afield on the Continent, rising to 90% in new-build housing.

TTF chief executive David Hopkins said: “In our view the market position should be phrased as a DEMAND rather than as a supply situation. Timber is still being imported and produced at high volumes.

“However, the surge in demand for construction materials this year means customers may not be able to purchase timber as readily off the shelves as they have been used to. We advise users of timber to work closely with suppliers on their purchasing strategies, and to take a forward-looking perspective on securing supplies.

“This approach will remain important, as recent reports have shown we can expect demand to continue to be high, particularly for structural and other softwood materials.

“We also know that traditionally sawmills in Europe normally enter a period of shut-down for repair, maintenance and holidays in June and July, and this will keep supply tight.”

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