Tasmania is the first state in Australia to introduce a wood encouragement policy (WEP). The policy aims to ensure sustainably sourced wood is fully considered, where feasible, as a key design component in public building projects throughout the state.
Recent changes to the National Construction Code to allow for timber products such as cross laminated timber to be utilised in more projects has paved the way for this change in policy.
The Minister for Resources, Building and Construction, Guy Barnett, announced that the WEP will “…promote a shift towards viewing wood as a first choice for construction, interior design and daily living.”
Development of the policy came about through consultation with industry and government stakeholders. Make It Wood, a branch of Planet Ark, encourages the increased use of responsibly sourced wood as a building material, and welcomes this policy move, stating that wood can play a big part in helping tackle climate change.
There is a perception that using wood as a building material equates to deforestation and forest degradation, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of biodiversity and habitats. While wood sourced from non-sustainable sources may contribute to these environmental ills, if responsibly sourced, using wood for homes, offices, buildings and infrastructure projects has proven benefits.
Paul Klymenko, CEO of Planet Ark, welcomed the announcement. Paul notes that “Responsibly sourced, certified wood has significant, positive environmental outcomes. It helps reduce the impacts of climate change, it’s renewable, it stores carbon and it prevents the release of emissions by replacing carbon intensive materials like steel and concrete. In addition, wood has proven health and wellbeing benefits, is cost-effective and quick to construct.”
More than 20% of Australia’s carbon emissions come from constructing and maintaining the built environment, so making the switch to wood as a major building material is a key strategy for addressing climate change.
Planet Ark’s Wood – Housing, Health, Humanity Report, commissioned for the Make It Wood campaign, found exposure to wood products and interiors has positive physiological and psychological health benefits, similar those created by spending time in nature.
“Research shows that being surrounded by wood at home, work or school has positive effects on the body, the brain and the environment and can even shorten hospital stays through reduced recovery times,” Paul explained.
An increasing number of architects who design buildings for healing and learning are incorporating significant amounts of wood into their structures to capitalise on its health and wellbeing benefits.
This announcement from Tasmania follows the adoption of similar wood encouragement policies by Latrobe City Council and Wellington Shire in Victoria and joins others around the world, including Rotorua in New Zealand, Hackney in London, British Columbia in Canada, Finland, France and The Netherlands.
- Consider sustainably sourced wood for your next home building or renovation project. Check out Make It Wood’s guide for help in choosing wood that is sustainable and suitable for your particular project. Visit FSC Australia and Australian Forestry Standard for in-depth information about certification in Australia.
- Visit Make It Wood for information about selecting and using wood for building, as well as the latest news about building projects using wood around the world.
- National Tree Day is coming up at the end of this month. Why not contribute to replenishing our forests by joining or coordinating an event? Visit: planetark.org to register, or for more information.
- Tasmanian Government
- Australian Forest Products Association
- Climate Control News
- Make It Wood
- Wood First Policy Media Release
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.