02 November 2015
AHEC: ENVIRONMENTAL PROFILING FOR THE INVISIBLE STORE OF HAPPINESS AND THE WISH LIST.
American hardwood forests are sustainably managed. Furthermore, for several years now, AHEC has invested in environmental profiling in the form of environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of its projects through independent experts, the Germany-based company think-step (formerly PE International).
The Invisible Store of Happiness has been profiled, using the latest LCA modelling techniques. David Venables says: “We can now produce accurate scientific profiles for each project we get involved in. The fact that we can collect data and mathematically model wooden products is as important as the numbers themselves. Why? Because it shows industry what is possible and also alerts the design community as to what is around the corner. I can envisage a time in the not-too-distant future when all products will be required to carry an environmental rating based on scientific life cycle.” Sebastian Cox says, “We can also use data from AHEC and the US Forest Service to calculate how quickly timbers we use get replaced in the U.S. forests through natural regeneration. I was fascinated to see the speed at which the timber I used in the Wish List project [for the London Design Festival 2014] was regenerated in the American woodlands. I believe the entire design community should be more aware of LCA and we should be dedicated to measuring the environmental impact of the things we design and make. Similarly, people should be able to know the true environmental impact of the things they buy and have in their home. Projects like this demonstrate the importance of things like LCA.”
As an example of the sustainability of American hardwood forests, for AHEC’s Endless Stair, made out of tulipwood CLT, it took less than two minutes for the 100m3 of logs used in the project to be replaced in the forests. All the timber to make the ten pieces produced for last year’s The Wish List project took two seconds to be replaced. Of course, it is the sheer scale of forests, which cover the same landmass as England, France and Italy put together that makes this possible, together with the fact that every year growth far exceeds harvest. American hardwoods have a low impact on the environment at all stages of their life cycle right from the point of extraction. Forest management in the sector is not intensive, one outcome of the fact that most American hardwood forests are owned and managed by individuals, families, or small companies rather than large timber corporations.
Forest holdings are relatively small, mostly under 10 hectares, limiting the size of harvesting operations The primary motivation for owning the land is usually not timber production or economics, but simply the enjoyment of forest ownership. Because timber production and economic return to shareholders are not primary objectives, the owners of American hardwood forests tend to manage less aggressively and to grow their forests on longer rotations. Selection harvesting is typical, involving removal of only a few trees per hectare, rather than clear-felling. After harvesting, forest owners usually rely on natural regeneration, which is abundant in the deep fertile forest soils of the United States. There is little need or incentive for addition of chemical fertilisers. No non-native “exotic” or genetically modified species are used.
For further information contact: Friends & Co, Belinda Fisher or Christine Samuelian
E-mail: Belinda@friendsandco.co.uk / Phone +44 7808 721 308
E-mail: Christine@friendsandco.co.uk / Phone +44 7957 203 037
AHEC: American Hardwood Export Council
23 Austin Friars
LONDON EC2N 2QPl / United Kingdom
Ph. +44 207 6264111 / Fax +44 207 6264222