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Sustainable wood construction enhancing Catalan forests

Catalonia only uses between 5-10% of its forest mass for building

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03 July 2021 08:09 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

Catalonia is one of the most forested areas in Europe with about 60% of its surface being tree-covered, and with more woods than Switzerland and Canada.

Yet, the region continues to import wood from other countries for construction, using only between 5-10% of its timber for this purpose. The rest is used either to generate fuel or to make packaging. 

Nowadays, wood as a sustainable building material is seeing huge growth; many companies, individuals and institutions are opting for this kind of material for construction.

Catalan wood has all the necessary qualities for this purpose, therefore, the forestry sector sees it as an opportunity to improve management and save the environment from wildfire. 

For instance, architect Josep Bunyesc has been doing just this for 10 years. He now builds at least ten sustainable wooden houses a year that generate more energy than they consume. He also uses Catalonia’s wood to boost the local economy, minimize the environmental impact, and improve forest management. 

Bunysec says Catalan wood has all the qualities necessary for construction and that it is not yet used enough because "it’s necessary to develop an industry behind it and make it not easier to import wood from central or northern Europe than to bring it from our forests."

Jordi Gené, head of the Catalan Institute of Wood (INCAFUST), an organization whose purpose is to promote the development and recognition of Catalan wood, believes that the key is demand, while additionally, the industry to back it hasn’t yet been seen. 

Now, however, the situation is changing and more and more people are seeing wood as an ideal sustainable material for construction.

In fact, builders also agree. This is the case of Clau 21, which, in the last five years, has seen demand for sustainable homes grow by 30%. 

Wood is one of the most requested building materials and, as explained by its co-manager, Rosa Prat, many customers ask that the wood be from the country - a request that cannot always be guaranteed.

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  • A wooden house in Bages with the owners and construction company officials standing in front of it (by Nia Escolà)

  • A wooden house in Bages with the owners and construction company officials standing in front of it (by Nia Escolà)

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