Peter Latham OBE FIWSc (Profile)

Fellows' Lounge
11 May 2012

Peter Latham joined the timber trade almost 40 years ago. His particular interest in the sector has focused on hardwood, forestry and training. He is Chairman of James Latham plc, which was founded in 1757 and is one of the largest UK distributors of hardwood and wood-based panel products.

Early in his career, Peter took on the role of Training Officer in the family-run timber business, where he was responsible for recruiting and training young people. The company ran a two-year training programme that involved working in all sectors of the business and attending block release courses to study for the Institute of Wood Science (IWSc) certificate and associate exams.

Peter joined IWSc in the early 1970s and was a member of its Education Committee and Council for many years and President between 1997 and 1998.

He spent a short spell working in Nigeria, which piqued his interest in tropical hardwood and tropical forestry. Peter has toured Africa, China and Malaysia promoting sustainable forestry. He is currently a director of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) International, the largest certifier of sustainable forests, and is past Chairman of PEFC UK. He is also a trustee of the Commonwealth Forestry Association.

He was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to the wood industry and was invested by Prince Charles on 29 February 2012. Reflecting on his extensive experience and involvement at many different levels in the sector, Peter said, 'Over the years I have seen wood products becoming more technical.' He believes that, 'sound training in how wood and wood fibre perform has become ever more important.'