How Is Wood a ‘Sustainable’ Material For Construction

We have all adored and admired wood as a material in its different form. Be it beams and columns of royal palaces, intricate carvings in the temples or the roof of a traditional home that will leave you feeling nostalgic. Using wood in construction brings a certain level of character to the building that creates a lasting memory of it even to a passer-by. India is one of the countries where a part of its economy is dependent on such wooden handicrafts.

In a contemporary context, a lot of architects and designers have resurrected the usage of wood giving way to ancient craftsmanship a fruitful future. You may think in this time where climate change is a catastrophic issue, how are we promoting the usage of wood? Let me walk you through a simple life cycle of a tree: As a plant grows into a tree it absorbs carbon from the surrounding until it eventually matures and naturally falls, after which the carbon starts exploding back into the surrounding. Therefore in earlier days, once a solid wood tree matures it was put to permanent use in construction or into furniture where it continued to absorb carbon emissions from the environment apart from its other structural properties.

This sustainable practice has been adapted by different Governments today. Sustainable wood comes from properly managed forests and in India they are monitored by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). There are certain parts of the forest that remain open for plantation. Here, a variety of different Indian teakwood is grown strategically with the natural forest. There are replantation policies for private and government plantations for all the states in India to follow. This has been a successful and sustainable method to bring solid wood as a material back for its various uses.

A certified sustainable wood is identified by its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. which  is an independent and a nonprofit NGO in association with MoEFCC. They promote responsible management of forests around the globe. This also brings a certain restriction to illegal felling of trees and poaching of animals simultaneously.

Canadian wood has brought in a wave of solid wood usage in interiors and entered the Indian market as a sustainable wood, coming from well managed forests from EU. These include softwoods that are procured from coniferous trees known as Canadian or Pine wood and have types like Western red cedar, Western hemlock, Yellow cedar, Spruce-pine-fir (SPF), Douglas fir, etc which are widely used in home interiors for false ceiling, wall paneling, furniture as well as construction.

Today having solid wood interiors and furniture is a status symbol and one feels proud of their wooden possession as they have given way to craftsmanship to be showcased in their homes. However owning solid wood piece with clear conscience will need you to do your homework and make sure that the product is bought from a certified dealer and let the new piece add character to your home sustainable.

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