Softwood import volumes for 2020 see a 3% rise against 2019 totals, after falling 24% in Q1/Q2 of 2020, to reach 6,580,000m³.

The cumulative volume for softwood in 2020 was up by 200,000m³, from 6.3 million m³ in 2019, following a surge in timber imports in Q3/Q4 2020, primarily from Sweden, Germany, Latvia and Russia.

Provisional full-year data for 2020 reveals total timber and panels import volumes between Q1/Q2 2020 were 26% below the same period in 2019. By the year’s end, improved second-half volumes had cut the deficit over 2019 to just under 3%.

 Q4 helped lead the recovery as volumes for all products were nearly 39% higher than over the same period in 2019.

A total of 4.9 million m³ was imported between August and December 2020 with the next largest volume over this period being back in 2006, where volumes reached 4.8 million m³.

David Hopkins, chief executive officer of the Timber Trade Federation, said: “After the first lockdown in March last year the timber industry, just like the rest of the UK economy, came to a near standstill, and the volume of timber being imported fell sharply.

“Meanwhile, demand increased dramatically, both in commercial construction – which has managed to carry on during the pandemic – and domestic projects, as so many people were forced to spend more time at home and spent their disposable income on refurbishment rather than holidays or other bigger ticket items. It has led to timber becoming one of the most sought after commodities in the UK!”

“The higher levels of import should help ease some of the pressure we have seen between supply and demand, though we do expect the tight conditions to continue well into 2021.”