London festival highlights timber’s climate role

Tree whisperer, one of the TTF Conversations about climate change competition winners

The World of Wood Festival (WOW), a six week event to highlight the contribution forestry and timber can make to combating global warming, is being held in London to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference. Running from October 25 to December 1, a key focus will be the UK/EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade initiative and sustainability and governance more widely in the tropical timber sector.

WOW, which is taking place in the London Building Centre, was jointly devised by the UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois). It is backed with UK government funding and supported by an alliance of 40 other trade associations, businesses, campaigns and organisations including bodies focused on forest growth and development. On show will be latest developments in engineered/mass timber and other wood products from around the world, including Ghana, Indonesia, China, Australia and North America.

Seminars and presentations will cover a range of forest and timber topics. The core message is that using more wood from responsibly managed forests generally – but particularly in construction – can play a vital role in mitigating climate change. Another emphasis at WOW will be that good forestry and timber governance are key to sustainability and maintaining the world’s forests and their role, both in regulating the climate and maintaining biodiversity. This ties in with the TTF’s launch of its Tropical Timber Manifesto, which is proposing a new global governance framework rewarding supplier countries which implement governance reform with preferential consumer market access (see accompanying story).

The TTF has been a leading supporter of the UK/EU FLEGT initiative since its launch and has been running a government-funded FLEGT Communication Campaign. This has included design competitions, challenging architects and designers to create structures, objects and furniture in tropical hardwoods from FLEGT VPA countries. The latest was titled ‘Conversations About Climate Change’, where the entrants’ brief was to design pieces that triggered discussion about the carbon and wider environmental benefits of using legal, sustainable timber. The winning entries from this competition will feature at WOW and there will be plenty of messaging about the key importance of good governance in the global timber trade.

On November 9, the FLEGT Independent Market Monitor (IMM) will also host a presentation at the Festival, describing its work in tracking timber market legality assurance development and its impact on trade flows. Other WOW events will look at new developments across the international timber supply chain and the Festival will be backed by an extensive digital communications and virtual experience programme.

The organisers say it will highlight ‘international best practices and use its in-person and digital experience platforms for discussion and knowledge-sharing with the aim of strengthening forest governance and trade in wood products globally’. “We want to display wood’s beauty and its role in the climate emergency as a carbon store and to build global recognition that good governance and forest management is the core component of growing forests around the world,” said TTF Chief Executive David Hopkins. “One key message prevails and remains more crucial than ever: that wood equals hope.”

WOW has a dedicated website where visitors will be able to download an augmented reality app for a virtual tour of the exhibition. For more information contact