Hand holding wood chippings

Wood has many uses, and benefits the economy and environment of Wales. It has the potential for creating a wide range of businesses and jobs. Using wood in construction, for products and as a renewable energy source, helps us to tackle damaging levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

Wood acts as a carbon sink, locking up carbon in the trees themselves, in the woodland soil and through the timber products derived from their active management. 

The benefits of wood

  • Woodlands offer great opportunities for enterprise, with potential for real business and job creation
  • Using sustainably managed wood as fuel reduces CO2 emissions
  • Adding value to wood as products can stimulate the economy through additional activity in the Welsh Forest Sector. Value is added to the timber by processing the timber into sawn and manufactured wood products, and this helps with job creation in Wales
  • Wood is economically viable as a material and fuel when compared to other products and energy sources
  • Wood and wood products do not use high energy fossil fuels in their production, unlike manufactured goods such as steel, concrete, bricks and plastic
  • Wood has the lowest carbon footprint of any commonly used building material
  • Wood is a clean, efficient, sustainable, low carbon and renewable energy source

Forestry and the economy

The Welsh Forest Sector is worth over £450 million to the economy and employs over 11,000 people in hundreds of small to medium sized rural businesses. Forest Sector industries are growing in Wales, with over £40 million of recent new investment. New job opportunities are being created that will support this sector, and include:

  • Green jobs that help bring under-managed woodlands into productive management
  • Green jobs developing new recreation facilities in Welsh woodlands
  • Green jobs creating 100,000ha of new woodlands across Wales in the next 20 years
  • Green jobs in renewable energy projects, both in woodlands and from woodland products

Using wood for construction

Wood used in construction reduces CO2 emissions, not only due to the reduced energy required to create wood building products compared to other building materials, but also through carbon storage in the building itself.

Carbon can be locked up for as long as several hundred years when it is used in products such as the beams of old buildings or furniture. The wood can then be recovered, reused, recycled or used as a fuel.

Using wood for fuel

When wood is sustainably grown and managed, wood fuel reduces CO2 emissions. Although burning wood releases carbon dioxide, this is balanced by the carbon dioxide that has been absorbed in the original growth of the trees and in the growth of new ones.

Wood is effective as a form of domestic heating, as not only is it a storable heat source, used only when needed, but modern stoves are highly efficient and controllable.

Growing our economy

Value can be added to wood through additional activity in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

After turning trees into timber through saw milling (primary processing) it is possible to increase the market value further through manufacturing of sawn timber products (secondary processing). Turning wood into art and craft pieces or furniture (tertiary processing) can add even more value. This processing activity helps the Welsh economy by providing jobs in the supply and manufacturing chain.

The relative cost of wood

Wood is no more expensive than other products that compete with it as a building material, product or energy source. This can be especially true of locally sourced timber because of the major reduction in transport costs.

If you would like to contact the Sustainable Forest Management Team in Natural Resources Wales you can send your enquiry to sfmt@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

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