Soaring demand, the impact of Brexit, as well as climate change and the forest fire threats seen in North America and Europe are the 'perfect storm' behind the extreme shortages.
New research from Checkatrade reveals that only 22 per cent of Brits have heard of the shortages, however, many have already experienced its impact, with 21 per cent of people experiencing delays in either their jobs being started or completed due to a shortage of raw materials.
“The property and home renovation market has been booming over the last year and demand shows no sign of slowing down – in fact we've had 49 per cent more consumer searches so far this year than in the same period last year”, explains Mike Fairman, CEO at Checkatrade. “With this in mind, we'd recommend that homeowners factor potential future shortages into any upcoming projects they plan to undertake on their homes.We know our trade members are keen to work with their customers to find ways to overcome these issues, including trying to find alternative materials that could be used.”
The UK imports around 80 per cent of its timber and many are calling for the UK's forestry industry to be nurtured.
Sweden, which supplies almost 50 per cent of the structural wood used in the UK, has also recorded its lowest stock levels for 20 years.
Speaking to the BBC, David Hopkins, chief executive of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), said: “The pandemic has been the biggest factor causing the problems between supply and demand…but there are other factors at play. We've got these huge forest fires raging across North America that will take lots of timber out of production. The fires, and now the bugs, are taking out a significant volume from the market.”
The overwhelming demand for timber from people wanting to overhaul their garden during lockdown has also caused garden centres to experience a shed shortage, as demand for timber sees them struggling to keep up with sales.
But it's not all doom and gloom. “The good news is there is plenty of sustainable timber to meet this demand and a balance will start to be restored between supply and demand as vaccinations roll out, travel opens up and other consumer behaviour resumes,” wrote David Hopkins and Roderick Aitken, director of timber merchant Gilmour & Aitken, in The Scotsman.