Western Australia has now joined Tasmania to become the second state government in Australia to adopt a state-wide Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP). In addition, there are two local government authorities (LGAs) and eighteen local councils that have also adopted a WEP. The adoption of similar policies around the world is growing steadily, including New Zealand, Canada, Japan, France, Finland, Switzerland and the UK, who are all encouraging the use of natural, timber-based products in construction.
A WEP generally requires responsibly sourced wood to be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in all public new-build and refurbishment projects. As such is it not intended to be a draconian, all-encompassing dictum, but rather seeks to ensure that wood is at least considered as the primary structural component in these buildings.
Timber is the only major building material that helps tackle climate change. It is both a naturally renewable and abundant resource. As trees grow they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, known as carbon sequestration. When the tree is responsibly harvested the carbon - so-called biogenic carbon - is locked in the wood and remains there for the life of any products made with that timber. About half of the dry weight of timber is carbon.
In addition, the production and processing of wood uses much less energy – known as embodied carbon – than than other more carbon-intensive materials like concrete and steel, giving wood a significantly lower carbon footprint. As a result wood can be used as a low-emission substitute for materials that require larger amounts of fossil fuels to be produced.
Most buildings using wood are prefabricated off-site and are much faster to build, which will save you time and money. So, by building in timber, not only do you reduce your carbon emissions but also reduce the time and cost of construction.
Make It Wood joined Forest and Wood Products Australia for a series of half-day workshops called 'Resilience, Recovery and Rebuilding' in bushfire-affected locations Bairnsdale, Tumbarumba and Bega. The workshops included presentations by the RFS and CFA on preparing for and handling fire situations, and a psychologist who highlighted the best ways to manage mental health following a bushfire event.
Architect Nigel Bell from EcoDesign discussed the opportunities of building with timber on Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rated sites, and David Rowlinson from Planet Ark's Make It Wood campaign highlighted the environmental and biophilic benefits of using sustainably sourced wood.
The workshops were hosted by TV personality, author, cook and craftsperson Tonia Todman, who recently lost her Kyneton home and home-based business to fire. Tonia also shared her experience and discussed what she has learned as a result.
Wood Encouragement Policies - Map of Australian Councils - Apr 2020
A map showing the 22 Wood Encouragement Policies that have been adopted throughout Australia.pdf (541KB)
WEP Fact Sheet 2018
An update on Wood Encouragement Policies in Australia and around the world.pdf (621KB)
WEP Proforma Policy - June 2018
A proforma version of a Wood Encouragement Policy for Governments and Councils in Australia.pdf (97KB)