Wales to combat economic and environmental crises by becoming a ‘forest nation’

Welsh Government urged to build more affordable housing using indigenous timber to achieve a green recovery from the pandemic.

Constructing new affordable housing using timber from Wales can help re-energise employment opportunities and environmental devastation post-Covid, a report by Woodknowledge Wales finds.

Despite the Welsh Government investing a record £2bn in affordable housing this Senedd term, Woodknowledge Wales has identified the importance of constructing more social housing using Welsh grown wood and labour – with only 4% of wood in the timber supply chain entering the construction market.

To facilitate post-pandemic recovery, Woodknowledge Wales’ Home-Grown Homes project champions the development of wood-based industries in helping to ensure the government’s ambitious 2050 net zero emissions target is hit.

The report outlines clear policies the Welsh Government can adopt through investing in Home-Grown Homes, such as the economic, environmental, and societal impact of using timber for construction, particularly in social housing. Woodknowledge Wales propose that using high-quality Welsh timber in housing construction can allow homes to meet the resource needs of the low-carbon society, whilst being economically viable.

Plans to achieve a carbon neutral economy are already underway. Clwyd Alyn together with Woodknowledge Wales, have already secured funding from Welsh Government to explore the potential to establish a Zero Carbon Housing Performance Hub in Wales – supporting housing associations in the delivery of carbon neutral homes.

However, without intervention and the creation of a more coordinated supply chain, the demand for timber products for social housing and decarbonisation purposes will be met almost exclusively by imported products. Gary Newman, Woodknowledge Wales Chief executive, said: “Wales has many natural advantages to being a forest nation, fantastic climate for growing the kind of trees that industry needs, the land and workforce for new industries, and proximity to almost limitless export markets for high-value timber products.

“Creating a more robust timber supply chain in Wales also means more jobs, upskilling and income to our economy. It can also enhance woodland management, leading to greater tree planting practices for carbon offsetting and generating income from carbon credits.

“It is our mission to ensure that Welsh Government recognise this need and buy into the policies outlined in the Home-Grown Homes Report.”

Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government said: “We have put our money where our mouth is and have already invested £145m to date in our Innovative Housing Programme. Out of the 1,990 homes delivered across 64 developments; 29 developments have involved the use of Welsh Timber. I am determined to create a vibrant domestic market for Welsh timber and continue to build in ways that economically support our communities and our planet.”

“Affordable housing is a priority for this Government and we are committed to working with partners to develop high quality and sustainable affordable homes that people aspire to live in.”

For Woodknowledge Wales, it is time the Welsh wood-based supply chain had an overhaul, due to designers not knowing where to get timber and timber suppliers not knowing what designers desire.

Owain Williams, Joint Managing Director of Gwynedd based construction company, Williams Homes (BALA) Ltd, said:

“We need to increase people’s confidence about the quality of local timber. We need more mills and merchants to focus on producing products for construction, so we can reduce our ‘timber-miles’ attributable to importing wood.

“As well as being high quality and sustainable, timber frames for the houses can be built at the factory in two days and erected within 10 days once on site.”

Woodknowledge Wales is helping native wood-based supply chains to collaborate and create more affordable, net zero carbon housing across Wales.

To find out more about the Home-Grown Homes project, visit:

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