Traditional Thatching Materials: Issues Affecting a Sustainable Future

Author(s): Jenny Chesher

This report presents the results of research into the challenges facing indigenous producers of cereal straw and water reed for traditional thatching. It describes what the sector is already doing to overcome some of these problems and suggests further action to address other issues and help ensure a sustainable supply of thatching material in the future. It has been written following in-depth discussions with various producers, followed by extensive consultation with the thatch-production sector to gather a wide range of views and ideas. The findings show that changing weather patterns, cost and availability of machinery and escalating rural land values affect both water reed and straw production. Lack of availability of seasonal labour is a particular problem for straw producers. New reed cutters have limited access to suitable reedbeds, and there is a perceived conflict between nature conservation and commercial reed production that creates further barriers. The ageing demographic of the thatch-production sector and lack of training and mentoring are also concerns. Whilst some issues are being tackled by individual producers, it is likely that more collaborative action will be needed to address others.

Report Number:
Research Report
Conservation Thatch Thatching Straw Combed Wheat Reed Material Supply Sustainability Water Reed


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