Celebrating British Woods

Today sees the start of #GrowninBritain week, which raises awareness of the importance of developing a sustainable future for our woodlands and forests. 

#GrowninBritain recently launched a report, which looked at the state of the British timber industry. There were some eye opening stats in there, which clearly demonstrated that we have the potential to utilise our own woodlands and provide sustainable timber supplies.

I found it particularly staggering that out of all the timber consumed by the UK (1/2 million cubic meters annually) only 10% comes from our own managed woodlands. There is the potential to increase this figure to 20%, without impacting on trees currently standing in woodland. Currently the UK imports vast quantities of species, which grow natively in Britain. It seems crazy to me that we have a great natural resource right on our doorstep and yet instead we import, which has an environmental cost as we move timber across sea and road.

British wood

As a small workshop focusing on handmade fine furniture we're not using vast quantities of timber; therefore we are in the lucky position of not needing to worry about extensive supply chains. We are able to source great British woods by working with small, independent timber specialists, who allow us the freedom to rummage through and hand select boards, often specifically for each commission.

british wood at timber yard

Having said that, I believe every maker and workshop, large and small, has a choice to make about the values they hold and the woods they choose to use.  When I established Petrel I set out a few principals on the kind of business I was proud to put my name to. I wanted to create a business that was authentic and responsible, the choice to use only British hardwoods is a foundation of these values.

We have such a wonderfully broad range of timbers available in this country that we should be celebrating. I have worked with a range of our native species, some of which are extraordinary. The quality of our native walnut and oak in particular is second to none in my opinion and I have returned to them time and again in my pieces.

samples of British woods

I am looking forward this #GrowninBritain week to blowing the trumpet for British woods in all their variety, beauty and uniqueness. I hope the campaign increases awareness and use of our fine natural resource; it will be excellent for our own homegrown industries and pave the way for better management of our woodlands.

Petrel furniture sideboard in English brown oak and bog oak