Oak Forestry & Sustainability

As suppliers and consumers of oak timber, it is our responsibility to be aware of the environmental implications of timber production and actively ensure our own practices contribute to sustainability.

There was a time when forests and woodlands dominated landscapes all over the world, and the legacy of towering taigas, teaming tropical biomes and sprawling temperate forests (although they far predate any human ancestor) has always been closely intertwined with the history of civilization.

Timber production is part of a multi-billion pound industry that has a vast influence on the lives of people and animals all over the globe. Understanding the impact that logging and timber production have on natural assets is imperative but having complete transparency about the origins of timber can be challenging.

However, this challenge is not an excuse for complacency. As inhabitants of this planet, it is our moral duty to actively support sustainable resources and adopt environmentally sound practices. The age of burning through our planet’s resources without a care for the future is behind us, and now we ignite a fire in our ambition to make choices with a smart conscience to improve the subsequent years.

In a world without trees, life will fail and this begs the following question: how do we all support our forests and still benefit from the raw materials they offer?

How Hardwoods are supporting sustainable foresting

We can all make a difference in our lives to save the forests. The way we consume, travel, shop and eat all influence the world around us but a big way to help fight back against the permanent destruction and deforestation of natural habitats is by choosing recycled or responsibly-produced wood products.

At Hardwoods Group, we use sustainable European oak from well-managed sources and are aware that it is our responsibility as a timber supplier to protect the beautiful world around us and the trees that give us and so many others so much.

European oak: the responsible and reliable choice

European Oak is a remarkably strong and durable wood that grows throughout France, Germany, Croatia, Poland and many more countries and is one of the most dominant species on the planet.

By the nature of, well, nature, oak is a natural resource and renewable, and if sustainably sourced, using timber can have a big positive environmental impact. It’s how the timber harvest is managed and the replenishment handled that defines the future.

For this reason, companies should offer sustainable wood products from reputable sources and consumers should actively want proof that the products they use and purchase are sustainable. At Hardwoods Group, we wear the proof of our environmental awareness on our sleeves and proudly boast that we source our oak from certificated operations and managed European forests.

sustainability of oak wood

FSC – the Forest Stewardship Council

Anyone working with wood on a commercial scale will probably recognise the FSC ‘tick tree’ logo. The FSC is an independent not for profit organisation that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

Their certification system provides internationally recognised standard-setting and trademark assurance to anyone, business or individual, who is interested in supporting responsible forestry.

There are ten principles that any forest operation must adhere to before it can receive FSC forest management certification. These principles encompass some of the following:

  • Replanting and harvesting in an environmentally responsible manner
  • The rights and fair treatment of workers
  • The economic well-being of local communities is assessed
  • Land rights and ownership rights of indigenous peoples must not be compromised
  • Negative environmental impact on the surrounding area must be avoided
  • All practices must comply with local and national laws and standards
  • Any international treaties and conventions that apply must also be obeyed

These inspections are carried out to strict guidelines by independent organisations accredited by the FSC. This avoids any bias or personal interest affecting the outcome to give a truly independent assessment. Once these criteria are all satisfied, FSC certification can be granted to the forest and any timber produced is allowed to carry the FSC label and logo.

fsc certification

Chain of custody

To be sure that timber reaching the end-user is genuinely FSC certified, a chain of custody certification is also granted. To achieve this, any stage where the timber from an FSC forest is processed (e.g. cutting, packaging or manufacturing) must be audited separately. FSC-accredited inspectors will assess the working practices of the company involved and issue certification if this complies with FSC standards.

PEFC – the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

PEFC care for forests globally and locally to promote sustainable forest management through certification. Their methods protect the products that forests provide and help ensure forests will be around for generations to come.

PEFC works through national forest certification systems, enabling countries to tailor their sustainable forest management requirements to their specific forest ecosystems, the legal and administrative framework, the socio-cultural context and other relevant factors.

Following rigorous assessments and successful approval, forests will become PEFC endorsed. This means PEFC certified materials from anywhere in the world meet the same standards of sustainability and ethical production.
pefc certification

sustainability of oak

Why stopping deforestation matters

Deforestation is one of the leading causes of climate change and species extinction.

Deforestation is the permanent removal of trees to make way for other economic gains such as grazing pastures, agriculture, timber and fuel, manufacturing, or construction. Note here that this destruction is permanent,  and the consequences are more significant than many think.

1) Loss of biodiversity

Forests cover 31% of the Earth’s land surface and house a majority of the plants and animals found on our beautiful planet. Within these biomes, hundreds of lifeforms coexist, and species diversity can number in the hundreds, from birds to fungi and insects to mosses. Large scale deforestation deprives wildlife of food and shelter and can cause species of fauna and flora to completely disappear (137 species of plants, animals and insects every day). If widespread deforestation is not stopped, 80% of Earth’s land animals and plants that live in forests will become extinct.

2) Damage to the water cycle

The hydrological cycle/water cycle is one of the most important processes in the natural world. In a forested area, much of the local water is retained within the plants themselves. Once these are felled, the cycle is disrupted and water is lost from the local cycle. The diminished water flow through the soil can lead to desertification and the death of other species.

wood sustainability

3) Soil erosion

Trees and their roots anchor the soil and offer shelter from the wind and rain. When forests are wiped out, the land becomes exposed and is made vulnerable to being washed or blown away by elements. The slash and burn technique of deforestation floods the atmosphere with significant volumes of carbon dioxide which speeds up the soil erosion process. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that as much as half of the world’s topsoil has already diminished because of deforestation.

4) Climate change

Heat is trapped in the atmosphere by carbon dioxide and methane, leading to global climate changes. Trees clean the air by releasing oxygen and water into the atmosphere that absorbs CO2. The more trees that disappear, the less clean the air becomes and the higher the temperature grows. Trees also release carbon when they are cleared or burned and on the mass scales of deforestation, this contributes to the rising temperatures also. Tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year. Trees are the lungs of the planet and without them, we’d struggle to use our own.

Hardwoods Group: committed to sustainability

For further information about our sustainability practices and our services, contact the Hardwoods Group team today on 01244 377 811

 

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