Sherwood Forest in the UK is the setting for the latest energy controversy with Robin Hood’s “major oak” right in the mix. And using timber in green buildings is a key way for the forestry industry to assist in the transition to a low carbon economy, according to a new United Nations report.

The Guardian reports that the latest battleground for the fracking gas technology in Britain looks set to be Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of folk hero Robin Hood and now the target of a seismic survey by multinational chemical company Ineos. The company will start burying charges and spend up to two years using “thumper trucks” to search for shale gas. Campaigners have called on the government to block any possible fracking and protect the forest.

According to documents obtained under freedom of information, Ineos has obtained a licence from the government for shale gas exploration and could be working within 200 metres of the Major Oak (pictured with Robin giving Marian a fencing lesson); a 1000-year old tree that is said to have been the sort that would have sheltered Robin Hood and his merry men. Anyone who has visited the site will know that the tree is not in good condition and is held up by quite a few metal supports.

Guy Shrubsole; a Friends of the Earth campaigner said he expected the search for shale gas under Sherwood Forest to become a new rallying point. A small protest camp has been established at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, at one of the wells where gas firm Third Energy has been given permission to start fracking. Ineos told the Daily Telegraph that no decision had been made on whether fracking would go ahead under the national nature reserve, adding that “any decision to position a well site will take into account environmental features such as the Major Oak”.

A United Nations report states that “Forests are at the heart of the transition to low-carbon economies. It states that a virtuous cycle can be enacted in which forests increase removals of carbon from the atmosphere while sustainable forest management and forest products contribute to enhanced livelihoods and a lower carbon footprint. Building with timber was one of the uses examined.

The report said that in terms of uptake of timber in building, policy settings and risk aversion on the part of builders were two of the biggest barriers in the developed world. This was not the case for the detached dwelling sector where North America and Europe led in timber construction, but in the medium and high rise sectors. In Australia, it said the average use of wood products per unit of floor area had “decreased significantly over time and that reversing this trend could have significant CO2 mitigation benefits”.