This update has been prepared by David Hedges, our Head of Housing and the Home-Grown Homes 2 project manager
This month, the Woodknowledge Wales Team has been boosted by the appointment of two new members.
Flora Seddon has been appointed as the third of researchers by Bangor University and will focus on delivering the Project’s work to scale up farm forestry through collective and collaborative management’. Collective management of dispersed small-scale farm woodlands will be essential for addressing society’s demand for timber which is set to triple over the next thirty years. Flora will explore how geographically dispersed farm woodlands can be managed collectively to overcome the scaling issues of farm-level timber production and how forest products can be collaboratively marketed. She will focus on the UK (and Wales specifically) but draw on examples of collective management of small-scale forestry abroad.
Toby Maclean has joined the team as Specialist Advisor Construction and will be supporting us in delivering those elements of the Project focussed on carbon analysis and reduction. Toby is a structural engineer with a diverse career engineering everything from oil platforms and concert halls to handbags. He established the successful TALL Engineers in 2005 that went on to build a reputation for providing practical yet technically sophisticated and holistic solutions to diverse projects in the built environment and concentrating on design from first principles, with the firm increasingly concentrating on timber as a structural material. Having sold this firm, in 2020 Toby established Allt Environmental to atone for past carbon sins and to address the urgent need to decarbonise the built environment especially in relation to embodied carbon. Since Allt was established, Toby has mixed project work, research and consultancy, with a focus in understanding the environmental impacts of timber in construction.
Our work with sawmills across Wales continues with further engagement with mills to see new investment, support collective action of NRW timber sales and tackle challenges like the lack of hauliers and weighbridges. Partners ASBP and GHA are making good progress on the development of carbon tools for timber processors, timber manufacturers, designers and clients and we are looking to work with a number of our members on Building Performance Evaluation on projects that are nearing completion on site, before the current ‘heating season’ ends in March next year. (I don’t think we can refer to the CoPs anymore because of the risk that we’ll be accused of double funding!
The Skills and Recruitment Review
We have seen the completion of the first main project output – a review of education and training in forestry and advanced manufacturing and the emerging conclusions around the following issues which featured in all of the stakeholder interviews James Moxey and Ceri Loxton have carried out over the past few months:
1. Awareness: gaining the attention of wider society to the role that forestry and low-carbon construction play in decarbonising Welsh society;
2. Interest: focusing on the incentives that will encourage people to consider starting their careers within the sectors;
3. Access: create the appropriate learning pathways to get the best training and develop the skills needed; and
4. Workforce: support entrants to the sector by creating opportunities to gain experience, employment, and Continuing Professional Development.
There are recommendations to address the skills and recruitment gaps and interestingly there are challenges, causes and potential solutions common to both sectors. The report is going to be circulated for comment to the stakeholders and the feedback will be reviewed in December.
Wales’ first Timber Industrial Strategy
This will take shape next year with a consultation by the Climate Change Minister Julie James MS which will align with other initiatives like the Delivering Net Zero Project and the Net Zero Skills Action Plan for example. As part of the Project, we are supporting the development of the Strategy and we are currently putting together a series of case studies which will be incorporated into the consultation document. These will focus on growers, processors, manufacturers and clients.