ARTICLE Patricia Moore
Timber is readily available, durable and simple to use, easy to maintain and with excellent insulating properties. And, as the demand to minimise adverse environmental impacts grows, timber from certified, sustainably managed forests is the environmentally-smart option.
Sustainable wood comes from sustainably managed forests. Sustainable timber refers to timber that has been harvested responsibly. That is, when one tree is cut down for use, another is immediately planted to replace it. Such process is possible due to different systems, but all in all its renewable due to the forest stewards who manage the landscape to prevent damage to eco-systems, watersheds, wildlife and the trees themselves, taking a long term rather than short term view of the resource.
According to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international non-profit organisation, multi-stakeholder organisation established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests, the idea behind sustainably managed forests is ensure there are forests for future generations and provide clean air for future generations and a haven for wildlife.
Some basic requirements that logging companies must follow to be considered to following sustainable forest management practices are: protection of biodiversity, specifies at risk wildlife habitat; sustainable harvest levels; protection of water quality; and prompt regeneration inclusive of replanting and reforestation.
Generally softwoods, which make up around 80% of timber globally, come from cone-bearing trees - evergreens with needle-like leaves such as New Zealand natives, pine, macrocarpa, spruce, redwood, Douglas fir, cypresses and larch, and are best suited to construction work – framework and cladding. Hardwoods are from slower growing deciduous trees like eucalypts, elm, oak, teak and beech and their attractive grains make them ideal for flooring, decking, furniture and decorative timber features. There’s timber for all budgets with softwoods typically the more economical option.
Pine Fast growing radiata pine is the main timber species used in New Zealand with applications across a number of uses from framing to cladding, decking and landscaping. In New Zealand however, Cypress pine with its anti-termite properties can be a better option. Pine decking is rapidly replacing tropical timbers which have fallen into disfavour amid concerns regarding their origin. The availability of 140mm wide boards means a deck area can be covered more quickly and more economically. As a softwood pine decking will require regular maintenance. Pine is renewable and energy efficient which makes it recyclable. Modern forest management is based on the scientific principle of managing forests for sustainable wood production, while maintaining the forests biological systems.
An extensive sub-species range means eucalyptus lend themselves to various applications including flooring, joinery and decking. Among the most popular are Tasmanian oak, blackbutt, spotted gum and Jarrah which cover all price points. Points to consider when choosing what wood is best for your deck should stem from environmental factors. Jarrah's natural properties include a high resistance to weather, rot, termites and even marine borers, making it valuable for a range of outdoors uses. Its density also makes it fire resistant.
Also known as red pine. One of the most popular and best known of New Zealand’s native timbers and highly regarded for its exceptional looks and versatility. Widely used in older character homes as both a structural and finishing timber since the early 1900’s when it began to replace kauri. It is a popular timber flooring. All New Zealand indigenous timbers are now sourced from privately owned forests. These forests are required to be managed to exacting standards under detailed long-term sustainable management plans. Every forest managed for timber on a sustainable basis has its own individual Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry approved Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Plan or SFM Permit.
- Recycled timber and cross laminated timber
Recycled timber is the ultimate in sustainability with a wide range of recycled species often available cut to match boards for renovation projects. Similarly, cross-laminated timber otherwise known as CLT is an engineered wood product which consists of laminated timber sections – pre-cast timber panels available in a range of sizes or customised to suit particular projects. Benefits of using this kind of timber helps to preserve our forests by reducing the need for virgin timber. Generally, processing this wood has less impact on the environment than felling, transporting and processing new lumber and the varieties recovered can include those not available naturally.
- Composite decking
Composite decking is the fastest growing wood deck alternative on the market. A man made building product that includes an approximate equal mix of recycled wood fibres and recycled plastic. Solid composite products are providing the perfect solution for easy-care decks, built-in seating and planters, and even fencing slats.
Are you exploring flooring options? Maybe you’re interested in Natural stone lookalikes.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.