The global timber market is changing at an unprecedented pace. Our industry is being asked to consider the environmental and social credentials of timber more frequently and in greater detail than ever before.
Our timber products must have robust foundations, as well as full documentation that can withstand scrutiny from compliance checks and support changing consumer demands. With the Ukraine crisis creating supply challenges with certain species, we need to get more creative in how we specify, source and use timber.
Oliver Combe of Timber Auctions UK is one of those attempting to drive this change, by partnering with TDUK member Mere Plantations to bring sustainably grown plantation Teak to the UK market.
Oliver said: “Mere Plantations and Timber Auctions UK can now offer container loads of Teak logs to the UK supply chain on a ‘delivered to customer’ basis.”
“The challenge is to help develop a supply chain that connects architects, specifiers and end users with merchants and primary processors who can cut the Teak logs to the required assortments. There is an opportunity for us all to work together to build a truly sustainable supply chain for tropical timbers in the UK and other western markets.”
Mere Plantations is a UK company that has been growing Teak (Tectona Grandis) in its own plantations in Ghana since 2007. Uniquely, Mere has full management control of the plantations, from sowing seeds in their own nursery through to delivering container loads of sawlogs to customers in the UK, Europe and the Americas. Mere Plantations carries out every operation in the plantations, from planting and tending, through to thinning and felling, and has a full digital inventory of all its crops thanks to advanced IT solutions.
The trees are managed on a unique single-tree selection short-rotation coppice system, are harvested responsibly and not clear-felled. This means Mere can offer a secure, long-term supply of Teak logs that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, fully FLEGT-compliant and has all the necessary Forestry Commission permissions and documentation for import into the UK.
The documentation of Mere’s Teak has also been tested in the UK by HMRC Customs, through OPSS spot-checks and by US Customs, and has passed all with no difficulties. By acting as the first placers on the EU and UK markets, Mere Plantations are offering a truly safe, transparent supply from Ghana.
Mark Hogg, CEO of Mere Plantations, added: “As all of our Teak is grown from seed by the company, our provenance is beyond doubt. Our Teak is grown on re-established, fully degraded former forest land, so it can only be sustainable. Through Ghana’s FLEGT VPA we can fully document the time of harvest, origin and location of individual trees to an accuracy of 2m. This is a level of traceability in the tropical timber sector as yet unheard of, to the best of our knowledge.”
Teak is an incredibly hard timber species that is moderately heavy and resistant to frost, heat, pests, disease and rot, even in marine or saltwater environments. As a result it is renowned in the outdoor furniture and marine industries.
Teak can also be used to supplement or replace traditionally used tropical and temperate hardwoods for applications that require durability, stability and good finishing when priced similarly.
Oliver continued: “Mere Plantations are offering 10 lots by 20ft shipping containers to the market via Timber Auctions’ online timber sales portal. We are looking to develop a monthly online sale of Teak and will be steadily increasing the quantities as the demand increases.”
Dave Hopkins, CEO of Timber Development UK, commented: “Over the coming months we believe the supply chain may need to find new sustainable sources of certain products to help mitigate some of the supply challenges we could be facing in the current market. It’s great to see TDUK members such as Mere Plantations working to create new routes of supply to bring Teak into the UK.”
The first sale of Mere Plantations’ Teak logs through Timber Auctions UK takes place on Wednesday 22nd June at www.timberauctions.co.uk
Building a Super Yacht
Mere Plantations’ Teak is now being used by some of the world’s largest super-yacht manufacturers to create teak decks for some of the most luxurious yachts in the world.
Mark Hogg says: “As a grower, producing super-yacht grade decking timber from short rotation plantation timber is not only rare, it is unheard of. We are also, to the best of our knowledge, the first grower of Teak from Africa to hit luxury marine application quality standards for the boat building sector.
“To produce timber of that grade the process must begin even before you plant the tree. Seed selection, site selection, germination and quality control are all crucial. The post-planting husbandry regime is intense and critical to the quality of the timber.
To see our trees become the finest yacht decks in the world is a true privilege. Directly enabling trees to be planted and providing quality employment in the developing world must be the very definition of socially responsible timber.
“This process also removes the pressure on the natural forest to provide the timber needed, linking the need to plant trees and absorb carbon dioxide to necessary increases in timber usage.”