New European Union import regulations may affect the price and availability of timber used for large outrigger mats and temporary roadways.
The new rules, which take effect in March, are aimed at prohibiting the import of any illegally produced wood products into the EU in order to help combat the unlawful felling of trees and thus help combat illegal logging and the deforestation of rainforests.
For years contractors have used the African wood Ekki for mats and temporary roadways because it is exceptionally tough and requires no preservative treatment and is therefore benign to the environment. The new regulations may well cause a shortage of such tropical woods in the EU, pushing up their price and forcing a move towards alternative materials.
John Roberts, managing director of Timbermat, one of the largest stockists of timber mats in the UK, said: “Our wood experts are well aware of the new EU Timber Regulations and their implications. We have long been anticipating the demise of Ekki as the new regulations are introduced because of the implications on tropical timber. That is why we have been researching alternative woods which have similar qualities to Ekki. These are more sustainable species and are more widely available with no threat to the environment.”