Vastern Timber Press Releases

Discussing resilient supply chains & biomaterials on the WoodBUILD podcast

In a new podcast, Tom Barnes, MD of Vastern Timber says “The interest is growing in materials that have a negligible carbon impact, and that puts wood front and center when it comes to considering how we are going to build in the future.”

The WoodBUILD podcast, hosted by David Hedges at WoodKnowledge Wales, features Tom Barnes and Andrew Bronwin talking about trees and timber. The podcast is out now, at

During this wide ranging discussion, Tom Barnes, says “Brexit and covid and climate change together has really started to focus people’s minds on the resilience of supply chains.”

“At the start of the pandemic there were issues around toilet roll in supermarkets, but actually within our industry there were big problems with getting basic constructional timbers during the early stages of covid, just the normal carcassing timbers that would have come from abroad. There’s been all sorts of problems with shipping timber from other parts of the world, related to covid and other other global issues.”

“I’ve noticed this has really started to turn up on the agenda of clients, at the end of the supply chain and also the merchants supplying them. And I’m hearing more and more people trying to get a handle on where their products are coming from. I’ve spoken to big construction clients and big building owners clients who are starting to really look at every single part of the building – whether it’s for retrofit or for new build – and trying to understand where these products are coming from, and in many cases being quite surprised at how far they’ve traveled.”

Tom goes on to say “there are many of these things that we can supply closer to home and timber – to some extent – is one of them.”
Discussing climate change more specifically, Tom said “clearly there are big negative consequences, and for me they manifest themselves mainly through disease. It is fairly depressing when you start to look through the list of wood species we have in these countries and diseases and pests and pathogens that are associated with them. I do start to think, well, what on earth are we going to be processing in 10 years 20 years time?” “Already in my career I’ve watched elm all but disappear from the list of commercial species that we can process. We’re in the process of watching ash disappear which is upsetting because it’s such a wonderful species. We’ve got problems with larch, we’ve got problems with oak, we’ve got problems with chestnut. It’s associated with climate change because the slight changes or increases in temperature allow these pests and pathogens to move and it’s also associated with global movement of product.”

However on the upside, I think the recognition of climate change and its impacts is really leading to a resurgence of interest in biomaterials, with wood being one of them. The interest is growing in materials that have a negligible carbon impact, and that puts wood front and center when it comes to considering how we are going to build in the future. That’s a positive thing and that’s something that I hold on to.

Listen to the podcast at

For more information, visit

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