Sustainable timber procurement toolkit

This Sustainable Timber Procurement Toolkit aims to provide assistance for anyone in the public sector who wishes to find out more about procuring timber-derived products and ensure that they are sustainable.

Further information can be found in the UK Government’s Timber Procurement Policy. For help on procuring products such as furniture, paper, and timber for construction, have a look at the Government Buying Standards.

The Scottish Government's Procurement Journey process should always be followed before embarking on any procurement activity.



The public sector procures a significant amount of timber and timber products – from construction materials, to furniture and office paper.

Between 2011/13 SSN worked in partnership with WWF-UK on its What Wood You Choose? campaign, to raise awareness of the economic, social and environmental consequences of purchasing illegal or unsustainable timber and timber products. Local authorities were asked to make a pledge to improve their timber purchasing, and could choose which pledge they wanted to make: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

In all, 23 out of the 32 Scottish local authorities made a pledge with WWF to make their timber purchases more sustainable. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue (now Scottish Fire & Rescue Service) also made a pledge.

The process was made easier by Scotland Excel, the Centre of Procurement Expertise for Scotland's local government sector, who developed a new building and timber framework, the UK's first national collaborative contract. This ensured and continues to ensure that all timber products bought through the framework are certified as sustainable.  This means that for many of the timber based products that local authorities purchase, the need for them to check for sustainability is removed.


Case studies

case study was produced, looking at sustainable timber procurement and the 'What Wood You Choose?' local authority pledge campaign. The case study looks at the partnership working and support network that has developed in Scotland, raising the profile of sustainable timber procurement in the majority of local authorities and a number of other public sector organisations.

Glasgow City Council wrote a blog, sharing its experiences of working to ensure that all the timber used on a construction project was sustainable. Completing this project meant that they gained the silver award under WWF's local authority pledge campaign.

Fife and Falkirk councils both achieved their gold local authority pledge campaign awards in early 2014. SSN worked with Falkirk Council to make a short film about their work to embed sustainable timber procurement across the organisation. The LABM (Local Authority Building and Maintenance) magazine also published an article about Falkirk's sustainable timber procurement work.



Durham County Council was the first UK local authority to achieve the gold award in the WWF local authority pledge campaign, and is at the forefront of sustainable timber procurement in the public sector in the UK.  In June 2013 Jamie Thomas from Durham County Council delivered a presentation to SSN members explaining how Durham County Council has gone beyond the WWF campaign, explaining how sustainable timber procurement has now been embedded as "business as usual” at the council. Have a look at the video below to find out more.

 Durham County Council resources

  • Durham County Council’s Sustainable Buying Standard for Timber sets out clear environmental, economic and social standards for contracts in this area, and is a useful reference point for anyone wishing to develop one of their own.

  • Durham County Council has supplied an example of a Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) question that might be used in a PQQ for a tender with a high timber impact. It is a scored question, assessing not just the timber supplied to the council, but the wider timber supply chain activities of the bidding organisation.

  • Durham County Council has supplied an example of a pass/fail question which might be used at the Invitation to Tender stage when purchasing timber products. This is used to ensure that any bidders fully understand the timber requirements, and asks them to confirm this and to tell the council how the chain of custody would be evidenced, once the contract commences.

Other resources

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