It is not uncommon in our sector to hear that timber production is good so long as the wood is “sustainable”. In this essay, we aim to examine what that means, to consider the issues arising from treating buildings as carbon stores, and whether increased demand for timber is a sensible goal.
We look critically at the key concepts and language being used by academics, campaigners, customers, designers, suppliers, manufacturers, and the timber industry.
We also consider the way we see and use forests — and nature more broadly — and the potential consequences for the biosphere flowing from our patterns of thinking. We examine these issues against the backdrop of climate breakdown and ecological crisis.
Finally, we try to offer some practical approaches for architects, designers and other specifiers to try when specifying and building with timber.