Photo: Woodland Classrooms © Jim Stephenson


The stewardship of forests is a vital part of a sustainable timber chain. The process of photosynthesis slows as trees age, so managed forests are more efficient and more effective at sequestering carbon. Buying only timber from certified FSC or PEFC forests ensures specifiers and suppliers are acting responsibly and supporting the sustainable chain. Local sourcing (choosing home-grown timber or the shortest ‘wood-miles’ journey possible) also contributes to sustainable timber resourcing and increases the environmental credentials of the wood used. Forest renewal needs to encourage effective biodiversity and reforestation can help address the climate emergency we face today.


Suggested Reading

Learning Resources

Module: Environmental aspects of wood

This module is a teaching aid for tutors delivering courses on the use and design of timber in engineering and architecture.


Unit: Sustainable sourcing

This unit covers the following topics: sustainable management of forest (including certification and chain of custody); temperate deciduous forests; temperate hardwoods; and tropical hardwoods.


Environmental aspects of wood: Questions and answers

This unit provides model answer detail for the two short answer essay questions on the student question sheet. The questions are designed to test student understanding of the information within the module Environmental aspects of wood. 


Wood Information Sheets

Sustainable timber sourcing

This Wood Information Sheet sets out to explain the certification process to improve specification and increase clarity and efficiency throughout the timber supply chain.


Specifying British-grown timbers

The purpose of this Wood Information Sheet is to summarise the characteristics and the current and potential uses of timber grown in Britain. 


Choose and Use

Sourcing sustainable timber (2012)

This Choose and Use sheet details the various different certification schemes that are available, the legal obligations to adhere to Chain of Custody certification and also the three different certification categories - illegal, legal and sustainable timber. 


Magazine Articles

Specifying lesser-used UK/European timber species, and modified woods (2019)

Charlie Law assesses the UK's hardwood consumption and availability, and looks at other available options.


Lesser-used UK-grown timber (2019)

Daniel Ridley-Ellis looks at the grading properties of different species in comparison with the highly commercial Sitka spruce.


Bamboo: fad or foe? (2017)

Is an increase in the use of bamboo products bad news for the timber industry? David Trujillo discusses the most recent developments and how the two materials can work together to create a more sustainable future.


Action needed to maintain UK wood supply (2017)

Recent reports suggest that the availability of British timber is in danger. Stuart Goodall outlines the facts and the solutions available.


Improving the home-grown timber supply chain (2016)

Dougal Driver explains how Grown in Britain is playing a crucial role in raising public and industry awareness of the many benefits of home-grown timber.


Timber Building Case Studies

Woodland Classrooms, Belvue School, Northolt

Belvue School is a secondary school for children with severe learning difficulties and a range of other needs. Its site, in Northolt, west London, lies next to a small patch of woodland over which the school has been given custody.


Maggie’s Oldham

Maggie’s Oldham is a deliberate exemplar of how to create a fresh, uplifting and caring environment while eliminating the use of harmful materials. 


Other Technical Guidance

Wood Species database



Engineered bamboo and bamboo engineering (2016)

This Research Summary is based on an international symposium titled Bamboo in the Urban Environment, which took place at the University of Pittsburgh in May 2016. 


Sustainable Sourcing and Innovative Use of Building Materials: Case Study of Energy Plus House, Hieron's Wood, Derbyshire, University of Derby (2016)

In this paper, research on sustainable sourcing and innovative use of building materials is explored through the prism of a complex case study of a real building project. A novel use of sycamore as a structural material is investigated and reported.


Timber supply chain: environmental impacts (2003)

This research information sheet is an introduction to the subject of how the environmental impact of the storage and distribution of wood products can be minimised through better supply chain management. Examples from other industries, plus a Glossary of terms, is included.



Getting started with Chain of Custody certification, BM TRADA (2013)

This accessible guide will help you to understand Chain of Custody Project Certification for FSC and PEFC Standards by explaining what it is, how you can begin to implement it for your project and who can support you in this process. There are also references to successful case studies which incorporate certification at the project level and infographics illustrating the process.


The UK timber supply chain: improving management and reducing environmental impact, TRADA (2003)

This report is a best practice guide to demonstrating how the environmental impact of the storage and distribution of wood products can be minimised through better supply chain management. It presents the results of research which examined supply chains in the UK timber industry and in other industries.


Sustainable timber, sustainable homes, TRADA (1999)

This publication examines ways to improve the competitiveness of the UK sawmilling and manufacturing industry in construction markets. With emphasis on the market for timber frame construction amongst Housing Associations, the report also examines other potential outlets for UK solid wood and recommends an Action Plan for the industry.


Other sustainability sub-topics

Timber as a sustainable material 

Sustainable production of timber products

Sustainable building design in the circular economy

Sustainable building processes

Sustainable building life

Sustainability and health

Sustainability – Home