New TDUK member Miro Forestry & Timber Products is bringing plywood, edge glued panels, treated poles and other forest products to the UK from its sustainable timber plantations in West Africa. TDUK finds out more.
Established in 2010, Miro Forestry & Timber Products is based in the UK and manages sustainable timber plantations and factories in Ghana and Sierra Leone, West Africa. The business produces film-faced, general and platform plywood, edge-glued panels, logs, biomass and other forestry products.
To date, Miro has planted 20,000 hectares of hardwood forest, becoming the largest plantation forestry business in West Africa. In late 2021, the business commissioned an industrial scale processing facility to allow it to become vertically integrated and both grow and make finished timber products.
Strategy Director Charlie Bosworth founded the business with CEO Andrew Collins, and is now involved in further growing the company as it looks to expand its business and export to the UK market. To do this, Charlie says they first need to help the UK timber industry understand that very high quality plywood can be produced in West Africa, which he believes many people don’t realise.
Charlie explains: “We have a bit of a mountain to climb because we’re a West African plywood producer, so we are immediately compared to some other lower quality producers. But the fact is we’re quality driven and highly professional – we know what we’re doing.”
Until recently West Africa has seen little plantation development because the continent had huge forestry resources. Sadly, many of these natural forests are now depleted, and Africa as a continent has become a net timber importer.
That’s why Miro Forestry has seized the opportunity to secure new land and create plantations full of Eucalyptus, Gmelina and Acacia species.
Charlie says: “West Africa is an area of the timber belt that hasn’t had much plantation development, but with demand for timber continuing to rise we felt there was a real opportunity. Our aim is to supply the West African market as well as to export high quality products into the UK, US and Europe. We have a plywood mill in operation in Ghana that is already exporting 30,000m3 per year, and we hope to double that by next year as well as build our first mill in Sierra Leone.”
Now a major rural employer in these areas, Miro already employs 3,000 people and will be looking to recruit more as the mills come online. It also sequesters significant amounts of carbon within its business, and sells carbon credits as a result.
A convenient source of plywood
Miro uses these plantations to manufacture FSC-certified Miro Formwork Plywood that is durable and offers high structural properties, making it suitable for use in both large and small construction projects.
The company also makes anti-slip and melamine plywood, as well as concrete forming MDO plywood, furniture ply and high-spec platform plywood for engineered flooring manufacture.
Now, Miro is looking to partner with strategic buyers in the UK and is already delivering products to a number of well-known UK businesses.
Miro’s push within the UK market is particularly timely given the recent lack of Birch Plywood in the market due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Charlie says: “We know that traditional stocks of birch plywood are now difficult to come by and people are struggling to find new sources in the market. Our plywood panels are good quality and durable, and available with fast lead times. We can put a box into northern Europe within 25 days, rather than the two months that is typical with orders from Asia.
“Another advantage of West African timber from Ghana and Sierra Leone is that we have no import tariffs on plywood products, whereas Asian import tariffs are 7%, so we can be very competitive on price.”
Miro’s timber is sourced from the company’s own forest plantations on degraded land areas, which are FSC-certified and managed to the highest social and environmental standards. The company believes in the conservation and regeneration of indigenous flora, fauna and habitats, and so works to ensure that environmentally sensitive areas in its plantations, such as the edges of rivers and wildlife corridors, are conserved and regenerated.
* This article was first published in the May/June issue of Supplying Timber magazine