Timber and sustainability

Timber and Sustainability: What’s Happening in the Industry?

Throughout the last few years, there has been much debate about sustainable timber and wood suppliers—as well as manufactured wood and its place in the industry. Some feel that fibreboard, OSB or other wood products are a considerable threat to the timber industry’s future. Many believe the opposite is true—that it could be a valuable resource that brings economic and environmental benefits. I’m sure you’ll have your own opinion on the subject—so how about we take a closer look at what’s happening in the industry?

Sustainable Timber

To qualify as sustainable timber, wood needs to have been sourced from forests that are managed effectively and replenished continuously while not harming the surrounding ecosystem or native species. Responsible management calls for harvesting the trees once they reach maturity since their carbon sequestration rate slows down after maturity. Additionally, when a tree is cut down for use, another is planted in its place.

Using timber from well-managed forests can provide a sustainable solution to global environmental issues like climate change, loss of ecosystems and degradation of the environment due to human consumption.

The sustainability of timber is assured in the UK through PEFC (Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

What is the most sustainable timber?

The types of timber are generally classified as hardwoods or softwoods. Since they can be replaced easily, trees that overgrow, such as pine trees, are generally more sustainable in the long run than slower-growing species, such as oak trees.

Benefits of using sustainable timber

Captures and stores carbon

Cutting down trees for construction harms the environment and climate due to the reduced number of trees that absorb carbon dioxide from the air. This is undoubtedly true in the traditional sense of logging, which is destructive. But when sustainable forestry is practised, fewer trees are harvested than are grown. As a result, the net effect is a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, benefitting the environment.

When trees grow, they absorb a lot of carbon. And as they age, they absorb a little less carbon. For every metre cubed of timber, roughly one tonne of carbon is stored. In other words, forests that are managed sustainably can potentially store carbon even better than undisturbed forests.

Energy saving

Another factor to consider when it comes to the environment is how much energy is used in manufacturing. Timber, which requires only water and sunshine to grow, is the least energy-intensive construction material, requiring only 24% of the energy needed for steel production.

An entirely renewable resource

The growth of wood occurs naturally, making it a reusable, recyclable and biodegradable resource as long as it is managed responsibly, as opposed to fossil fuels.

Finished with an attractive look

Timber offers many aesthetic possibilities, considering the wide variety of hardwoods and softwoods. The different types have unique patterns, colours and aromas. It is easy to paint and varnish them to alter their colour. As a result, timber makes an excellent material for making garden planters.

Timber sustainability trends

Timber demand remained strong in 2020, and so did prices. Economies across the globe benefit from timber industries, mainly through domestic production and international trade. A sustainable timber supply produces revenue, provides jobs and stimulates economic growth, improving the global economy.

Several companies are even recording financial gains through sustainability initiatives like sourcing wood sustainably. Moreover, sustainable forests and timber are crucial to climate change mitigation, a factor that affects economic growth worldwide.

For forests to remain a valuable resource, sustainable management is essential. All timber companies and, therefore, the timber industry as a whole must be actively involved.

Manufactured Wood

Wood that has been manufactured is treated in different ways to enhance its quality. It is composed of wood pieces combined with other materials, such as adhesives and sawdust. In manufacturing wood, a top layer is made from natural timber coated with melamine. The next layer is a composite wood board, known as Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF).

Common types

Particleboard

Making particleboards, also called chipboards, involves mixing wood shavings and sawdust with resin. Flat boards produced in this way are cheaper and less dense.

Fibreboard

Compared to other manufactured woods, fibreboard is a dense board. Breakage and chipping are much less likely to occur with fibreboards. They are produced by crushing wood chips into small pieces and heating them until they become fibres. After drying, the fibres are bonded with synthetic resin. MDF is a common type of fibreboard.

Plywood

Plywood, also called laminated board, is a solid material due to its manufacturing process. Wood veneers are sandwiched together for a smooth, stable and reliable board.

Benefits of using manufactured wood

Sustainable

In the long run, engineered wood consumes far fewer fossil fuels than steel or concrete during its manufacturing. Thus, it is a more renewable resource. Additionally, it cuts down on waste by utilising all tree parts, including defects and leftover lumber pieces. As such, engineered wood allows us to construct larger wood structures. For instance, a wood product such as OSB can be made from as much as 90% of the raw material.

Versatile

Almost any wood project can be completed with manufactured wood.

Economical

Solid wood is generally more expensive than manufactured wood products.

Manufactured wood trends

The growing popularity of online shopping is likely to boost demand for materials made from manufactured wood.

Increasingly, manufacturers of wood materials also employ robotics and automation to increase productivity and reduce costs. Robotics is generally used to supplement human labour when working conditions are unsafe.

It’s also worth noting that the pandemic affected the market negatively. Despite this, the engineered wood market is now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Choose Sustainable Wood for Your Next Garden Project

Whether you prefer timber or manufactured wood as materials, keeping sustainability in mind when purchasing them is essential. At Enterprise Works, we offer panels, posts and other fencing materials made from FSC-sourced timber for your timber frame construction needs. We use FSC-certified wood for our fabrics to ensure that they come from well-managed forests that benefit the environment, society and economy.

For our complete list of materials, contact our team by calling us at 07392 109 856 / 01793 464771 or emailing enterpriseworks2@swindon.gov.uk.

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