27 April 2022

Timber market yet to see the full effects of Ukraine crisis

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It has now been nearly two months since Russia invaded Ukraine. This event shook the world and has resulted in an unprecedented roll out of sanctions – including ones placed on timber.


As we previously detailed, we anticipate the shock of these sanctions will be felt unevenly across different product groups – with birch plywood, Siberian larch cladding, and European oak the most likely groups to be those most affected by trade restrictions.


While there remains stock already on the ground in the UK or EU and goods in transit which have been ordered and paid for before the conflict, making them valid for legal and sustainable trade, shortages are likely in future.


Within Europe, Finland is the main UK supply source for birch plywood, utilising its own Birch Forest resources plus a percentage of Russian birch  to help satisfy existing demand.


Trade restrictions will prevent this additional birch  from crossing the EU border. This means that while Finnish manufacturers are committed to meet existing contracts there is little or no possibility of additional volumes being available for the UK.


We strongly recommend anyone working with birch plywood to discuss their needs with their suppliers, and about the availability of potential alternative products.


There are very few products which can match the unique properties of birch plywood, and this makes alternatives hard to find. Where alternatives do exist they are limited in terms of availability, so there is unlikely to be significant volumes available.


However, some examples of alternatives may be:

  • High quality European Poplar Plywood
  • Indonesian and Malaysian Tropical Hardwood Plywood
  • Canadian Douglas Fir Plywood Poplar
  • Okume (Gaboon) Plywood


For alternatives to Siberian Larch cladding, we highly recommend checking out The Timber Cladding Handbook – where full details are available on a range of alternative products. The earlier you engage in learning about your options, and talking with your suppliers, the better placed you will be for your future projects.


Without a doubt, it will some months before the full effects of these trade restrictions will be felt in the UK market. You can find out more on the Timber Trade Federation website with our most recent trade note available here.