We use wood in all kinds of products, from fuel to furniture. But of all the resources imported into the UK, timber has the largest land footprint. Every year, an area larger than Scotland is being deforested in places like Brazil and China, just to meet the UK's demand. We're the second biggest timber importer worldwide, and the largest user of wood pellets, primarily for electricity generation.
Companies like Drax and Ikea are key offenders. Drax, a Yorkshire power plant, burns the vast majority of wood pellets imported into the country, while furniture giant Ikea is the world's largest wood consumer.
Logging, particularly illegal logging, threatens the world's tropical forests, and the lives of people who live there. It destroys habitats vital for biodiversity and carbon storage, and also tramples on the rights of communities who own and depend on those forests.
UK timber supply chains and the companies that profit from them have been linked to habitat destruction and human rights abuses, despite various certification schemes. If the schemes we rely on to uphold environmental and ethical standards aren't working, then we need a law that will.
UK timber imports
Indigenous communities in Sarawak are fighting to protect their home from Malaysian timber company Samling. The area has lost 27% of its tree cover since 2000. And the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) is failing to protect local people and their forests.
But how's the UK involved? Well, we're the third largest importer of MTCS-certified timber globally. And despite blatant issues with the scheme, this timber continues to enter the UK as "sustainable".
Good Wood Guide
Our Good Wood Guide explains how and why to use sustainable timber. It helps you choose wood from healthy sources, avoid at-risk species and find alternatives to using new timber.
From our A to Z of timber types to our guide to buying second-hand, recycled or reclaimed timber, there are plenty of ways to ensure you're helping protect people and planet.
More trees please
Another way to protect the world's forests and prevent human rights abuses is to ensure we have a sustainable timber industry here in the UK.
But just 10% of England is covered in woodland, compared with an EU average of 38%. And UK trees, especially in towns and cities, are under constant threat from the pressures of development.
We believe there's space to double UK tree cover. Check out our trees map to see where we could create woodland.