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Benfield Advanced Timber Technology Group

FSC Timber Frame

The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is now internationally recognised as the 'Gold Standard' certification system to ensure the sustainable sourcing of timber used in a project. Our unique FSC-Certification helps ensure the sustainability of your building project.

Did you know?

  • The Construction industry is the UK's largest importer of illegally-harvested wood.
  • FSC certified material provides assurance of meeting Government procurement requirements for legality and sustainability.
  • A survey commissioned by the WWF showed that only 3 out of 80 (under 4%) of 'environmentally sustainable' (or similar) claims on products could actually be backed-up with evidence. FSC Chain of Custody contributes to improving this.
  • By actively specifying the use of timber products from FSC certified sources, YOU can have a direct and real effect on the preservation and protection of the world's forests, demonstrating that you take the environment seriously.
  • 1.5 million hectares of UK forest are FSC certified, including all Forestry Commission land.
  • The use of FSC-Certified timber can increase the construction project rating under both EcoHomes and BREEAM.
  • FSC certified timber gives you maximum credits for materials for the Code for Sustainable Homes. But be careful Benfield ATT were the first UK company to hold full Chain of Custody if you buy from a supplier without the certification you will not qualify for top marks.
  • Always check the Chain of Custody Number
Benfield ATT - the most environmentally sustainable way to build

The FSC Story

Over the past decade the preservation and management of the world's forests has become an increasingly high-priority issue. Illegal logging, deforestation, conflict timber and conversion of old-growth forest to monoculture plantation means the list of problems keeps growing.

Even here in the UK we have lost nearly all of our natural forests and are neglecting much of what is left. We import approximately 85% of our wood needs, with little knowledge and no guarantees about the sustainability of the forest management in the source countries.

The ecology of forests is highly complex, especially in biologically diverse tropical forests. The definition of ' sustainability' is itself a contentious and difficult matter, and closely connected with the variety of forest management styles and the market forces that dictate them. In a natural West African rainforest, for example, there are over two hundred different kinds of tree, of which more than fifty are valuable timber species.

However, only six species can generally be profitably exported, and those six are therefore selectively logged. This 'creaming' of the resource is wasteful and very damaging to the forest, and is the result of an economic (not an environmental) logic.

In the best of all worlds it would be possible to find a good market price for all 50 timber species, but architects or specifiers would need to be less conservative in their requirements if this was to happen. Simple bans on some tropical hardwoods only serve to avoid the issue rather than tackle it.

Benfield ATT offer anyone interested in environmentally responsible building a chance to meet their ethical objectives

Anna Jenkins, UK Director, Forestry Stewardship Council

Addressing the threats facing the world's forests is a difficult issue requiring a number of measures including improvement in government regulation, reduction of wasteful consumption, establishment of protected areas and finding incentives for responsible long term management.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) plays an important role in this point by overseeing a system of forest certification and product labelling. For timber consumers this enables them to choose timber from well-managed forests, thus providing a commercial incentive to forest managers to reach and maintain high environmental and social standards.

The FSC trademark on timber and wood products provides assurance that the forest of origin has been independently evaluated to comply with an internationally agreed set of strict environmental, social and economic standards.

Who are the FSC?

Founded in 1993, the FSC is an international non-profit organisation formed as an association of members representing a diverse range of environmental and social groups, progressive timber traders, manufacturers, retailers, and forestry professionals from around the world.

Its role is to evaluate, accredit and monitor independent certification organisations that in turn audit and certify those organisations which manage the forests or process the timber along the supply chain.

FSC Chain of Custody - What it Means

The FSC membership is evenly divided into three chambers - economic, social and environmental - each of which is further sub-divided into northern and southern hemisphere groups. This unique structure ensures that no one group may dominate FSC activity, with an equal voice provided to the logging company, native tribe and environmental group.

FSC and its membership have set ten international Principles and Criteria, covering all areas of forest management from maintenance of natural forests to indigenous peoples' rights. These criteria have been designed to specify forestry that is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable.

National working groups then interpret these Principles and Criteria and develop a set of national Standards appropriate to the local ecological, legal, economic and social context. These Standards are used by certifiers to assess the quality of management of individual forests.

By operating in this fashion, the FSC system provides an international framework for mutually recognising responsible forestry and its products. Timber from Brazil can be combined with chipboard manufactured in Scotland (using fibre from Russia) by a manufacturer in Italy to make an item of furniture and, provided all parties involved have FSC certification, then the end-consumer can be assured that no matter the origin of the timber or processing steps taken - the same high environmental, social and economic criteria have been applied.

There are two phases involved in the certification of wood products from a well-managed forest. The first is the assessment of the source forest by an independent certification body to evaluate its ecological health, the social impact of the operation and its economic viability. Secondly the certification body audits all companies involved in the Chain of Custody, tracing the wood from the forest through manufacturing to the end product.

Only when both these aspects are in place can products be called FSC certified and carry the FSC trademark (either on-product or on accompanying documentation).


"An example of a thriving Welsh company that has CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] embedded in its strategy, Benfield ATT of Caldicot is a winner"
Janet Reed OBE, Board Member WDA and Business in the Community

Internationally Recognised

Over the past 10 years, over 52 million hectares in 64 countries have been certified according to FSC standards while several thousand products are produced using FSC certified wood and carrying the FSC trademark. About 4,500 producers of forest products participate in the FSC system. Major retailers in Europe, North America, South America and Asia ask for FSC certification when ordering timber products so they can assure their customers that products they are buying support responsible forestry.

Here in the UK over 1.5 million hectares of forest are certified, including all Forestry Commission land. This represents the bulk of commercial forestry. The UK is also one of the major consumers of FSC certified products, the retail market value alone is close to £1 billion per year.

Government Support for FSC Timber Procurement

The FSC system has also received widespread recognition, using FSC timber can increase a construction project rating under both BREEAM and EcoHomes and recently the governments Central Point of Expertise in Timber (CPET) stated that FSC certified material provided assurance of meeting government procurement requirements for legality and sustainability.

Fully certified FSC timber is also one of the best and simplist ways of gaining maximum material credits in the more recent Code For Sustainable Homes.

Ultimately what FSC seeks to do is improve the management of forests worldwide. In developed countries like the UK the FSC aim to do this by creating a market pull which reaches all the way back to the forest floor.

By actively seeking to use timber and timber products from FSC certified sources anyone can have a direct and real effect on the preservation and protection of the world's forests.

"We believe that this young company [Benfield ATT] has established a sound basis for a values-driven, socially responsible approach that will reveal evidence of impact in the coming years"

Business in the Community

Benfield ATT FSC Timber Frame

With Benfield ATT's roots in environmentalism and sustainable development, we understand that it is increasingly important in the UK construction industry for the client to be accountable for the timber used on a project. With this in mind, Benfield ATT became the first Engineered Timber Structures company to hold FSC Chain of Custody for entire timber structures. This means that at any time in your project - be it Post & Beam, Engineered Timber Frame or Glulam - we can track the timber used to an FSC-Certified forest. As far as we are aware, Benfield ATT are the first, the largest and most experienced company of our type to offer FSC certification for the Sales, Design, Manufacture & Distribution of FSC-Certified Engineered Timber Frame Structures (including Glulam) in the UK. Benfield ATT is the place to come for FSC-Timber Frame.

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only respectable timber certification scheme, and this is internationally recognised. As such, it is supported by key Non-Government Organistions including WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Woodland Trust.

>> Click here to watch an animation showing how FSC timber is tracked from felling to use in a construction project.


"The construction industry is the largest consumer of timber in the UK, using approximately 70% of all timber sold nationally. Recent pressure from Greenpeace and other NGO's (Non-Government Organisations) is highlighting the urgent need to procure timber from accredited sustainable sources. However, procurement of sustainable timber has many pitfalls.

Due to the increase in the design of 'green' buildings, and the promotion of timber as the only renewable resource, the use of timber within the construction industry is likely to grow. As a result of this increase in demand, there is also an increased likelihood of illegal logging, poor forest management and deforestation.

Michael Brown CIOB Chief Executive said 'In well-quoted reports by Friends of the Earth the UK is currently the largest importer of illegal tropical timber in Europe, with approximately 60% of all UK tropical timber imports coming from illicit loggin operations in some of the world's most important rainforests. This is not just an issue for the Timber Frame Construction industry but is also an issue for the Government and its legislative policies. "

Extracted from CIOB's Procuring Legal & Sustainable Timber Guide

WARNING - Please read.

It has come to our attention that some Timber Frame companies in the UK are claiming FSC-Certification of their structures. This is only a valid claim IF the Timber Frame company holds a valid Chain of Custody Certificate. The FSC is a vigerous standard, ensuring careful management of our world's forests. By making these false claims they cannot guarantee FSC-Certified timber frame and are diluting and endangering our forests and the worthy efforts of the FSC name.

For more information on FSC-Certified Timber Frame companies (or to check the vailidy of Benfield ATT's certification) call the Forestry Stewardship Council UK Office on 01686 413916 or use their online Certification Checker (type 'Benfield ATT' in the certification holder box) - remember the claim 'We use FSC-Certified Timber' cannot be substantiated (and is therefore worthless) unless they hold certification.

Related Websites


  • National Green Specification

    How can you be sure that environmental claims such as 'from a sustainable source' have any meaning?

    >> Visit Site

  • WWFAfter four years the government has finally announced how it will implement its environmentally-friendly timber buying policy...

    >> Visit Site

  • Friends of the Earth Wood Buying Guidelines

    Make the best environmental choice when buying or using wood...

    >> Visit Site

  • FSC News

    FSC brings people together to find solutions to the problems created by bad forestry practices and to reward good forest management...

    >> Visit Site

  • FSC Policies & Standards

    FSC policies and standards aim to make the greatest possible contribution to forest stewardship worldwide...

    >> Visit Site

  • FSC Officially the most Independent, Rigorous, and Credible Certification System: FERN Report

    Download official report: 'Footprints in the Forest'

    >> Visit Site

  • Making the Case for Green Building

    To those of us entrenched in the green building world the benefits seem obvious. Why would anyone choose to build in a way that isn't comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient?

    >> Visit Site

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