Why we need to chop down trees to save the world from climate breakdown

Book synopsis

The carbon emissions generated by concrete and steel construction are well-known, but why then aren't we using more carbon-friendly building materials? In a passionate and compelling argument, author Paul Brannen advocates the use of timber in buildings wherever possible.

His controversial and counterintuitive argument is clear: planting trees isn't sufficient to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, we must also chop them down and use more wood in our buildings. The felling of trees is of course followed by new sapling planting so that the whole sustainable process can begin again – i.e. no deforestation should occur.

This is the first book to take timber from the margins to the mainstream, from the forests to the cities. It tackles head-on questions about sustainability, safety, the biodiversity of commercial forests and the pressures on land use.

The case for timber as a construction material is persuasively made – the creation of new engineered timbers with the structural strength of steel and concrete allow us, for the first time, to build wooden skyscrapers, and draws on the latest developments in engineering and material science. In addition to the familiar forestry models, the book advocates alternatives such as wood farming and agroforestry that bring with them added biodiversity gains for farms.


Paul Brannen is Director of Public Affairs for the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries and the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry. He also works for Timber Development UK. As a former Member of the European Parliament he worked on climate change legislation and during this period he became increasingly aware of the potential role for wood in decarbonising the built environment

With the built environment currently responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, Brannen's message is unequivocal: we must change how we build. Timber! offers fresh and inventive ideas that, over time, could see our expanding cities storing more carbon than our expanding forests.

Book launch

The book will be launched in London at 4.45pm Wednesday 26 June at the UK Timber Design Conference venue Hamilton House, Mabledone Place, WC1H 9BD. Timber! How Wood Can Help Save The World From Climate Breakdown was awarded ‘Book of the Week’ by Scotland’s architecture bookshop 10–17 June 2024.

For further information on Timber Development UK, visit www.timberdevelopment.uk.

Timber Development UK