Imports of timber have hit the topmost level for nine years

According to Timber Trade Federation (TTF) statistics, imports of panel and timber products have reached their topmost level for nine years.

The provisional totals for 2016 display an overall volume of 9.8 million m³ of the main panel and timber products imported. While likely to rise marginally as the final figures are announced, the volume has still experienced a five per cent bump from 2015. In 2016’s fourth quarter, the imported volumes were almost two per cent higher than in the same quarter in 2015. While it was the third successive quarter experiencing growth when compared to the complementing quarter in 2015, the rate of growth declined from 2016’s second quarter. And in spite of the robust hike, the volumes are still beneath that of 2007, the top year.

“These figures show the healthy state of the timber economy in the UK, with year on year growth since the financial crash of 2008/10. We will be working to help grow the timber sector further during the course of 2017 also.” Managing Director of the TTF, David Hopkins said.

The total comprises of the main panels and solid wood the United Kingdom (UK) imported, with sawn and planed softwood the biggest of the product groups and making up 63 per cent of the volume in 2016, with no change from 2015.

Softwood imports grew to an estimated 6.2 million m³, a five per cent boost. Sawn softwood increased by around six per cent, but planed softwood came up at a slower rate of four per cent. As a result, the percentage of planed softwood in the blend dropped slightly to about 35 per cent of the total volume.

Hardwood imports saw a fall of around two per cent, thought this can be attributed to the estimated five per cent dip in imports of hardwood species to 322,000 m³. In comparison, tropical hardwood imports gained upwards of eight per cent to about 104,000 m³.

Europe, the largest contributor of imports, saw its volumes fall an estimated eight per cent. The second-largest supplier, North America, witnessed a two per cent hike. Asia upped its hardwood exports to the U.K. by about five per cent. However, Africa boasts the greatest growth; their volume of exports to the U.K. went up a whopping 21 per cent.