Wood Knowledge: The Sustainable Sourcing of Ash Wood

Dec 14, 2023 | certified timber, english hardwoods, Grown in Britain, kiln dried timber, wood knowledge

Here’s Tom talking about the sourcing, sustainability, traceability and certification of one of our favourite hardwoods, Ash.

As well as being a Forester and one of the EWT owners, Tom is our head of sourcing and supply.

When we can nail him down we like to try to get his take on sourcing.

We asked him what’s appealing to him about sourcing British Ash. He came back with…

  • a sustainable, homegrown, very usable hardwood
  • sourced via responsible forestry practice
  • healthy Ash trees mean high quality Ash wood
  • plentiful and available locally

We’re not going to argue with him. And that’s without getting into work-ability, aesthetic qualities, economy. We’ll save that for another blog post.

Homegrown Ash wood and carbon footprints

As a raw material, wood has an exceptionally short supply chain. The homegrown timber we sell, comes from the woodland, to the mill, then to us, then to you.

That’s just three links, three steps, three movements. It does involve heavy vehicles and transport. Those steps use energy to run machinery, to dry the wood in kilns (although we use PV panels), to transport the people who do the work. It all contributes to the carbon footprint.

That footprint is becoming more of a consideration. Our attention as suppliers, and as consumers ourselves, can’t help but be  on carbon footprint when our consciousness is naturally directed toward the natural environment, climate and if not reversal, mitigation of what’s happening to our planet.

So in these three, small moves as part of where and how we source our wood, we apply deep thought and consideration.

Thinking about the sourcing and sustainability of Ash as a useful hardwood, it’s just a gift.

As a native tree species that grows throughout the United Kingdom, we can literally go to the forest down the road and there will be trees being thinned (which means they’re being removed to give other trees the space they need to grow) as part of woodland management programmes that will be made available for sawmilling. This Ash is on our doorstep. It’s not coming from 5000 miles across the atlantic. It’s not even coming 1500 miles from nearby eastern Europe.

So when we’re thinking about the carbon footprint of just these three steps or moves, we;re grateful for Ash trees. Even at the woodland level it’s a rewarding species to work with. That’s before we even get to how great it is as a working timber!

 

Sourcing wood and building relationships

Another one of the joys of Ash is the actual sourcing process. It’s about connection, relationships and people.

We build relationships with local woodland owners and the foresters working with them. People who are growing their trees and managing woodlands in the knowledge that there is a use for the tree, their work won’t be wasted and the tree will actually be valued. That there’s a market for the trees which will provide a small return (maybe too small?) for their commitment of time, money and hard work is part of the reward.

The relationships mean we work together year after year. It means we know the quality of the growing Ash trees. That they happen to be what’s know as ‘thinnings’, is a positive sign from our point of view.

Ash is a naturally prolific regenerating species so if you open up the light in the canopy it’s well adapted through the production of millions of seeds to take advantage of that light. The removal of the less substantial trees, or ones with least potential for longevity, is a sign the woodland is being cared for. The Ash logs we source may be thinnings, but because they arise from beautiful, biodiverse, managed woodlands, the result is high quality wood.

Certified Ash, sourced locally

As it’s currently plentiful in British broadleaf woodlands, most of our Ash wood can come from nearby, mainly the Sussex and Surrey borders. It is all Grown in Britain certified which means it’s certified as legal, sustainable, and fully traceable from the point of origin.

We only source logs that are either approved for felllng under licence from the forestry commission, or part of a 20-year well-thought-out management plan, also agreed by the forestry commission.

We manage and control information about our wood by tagging each board a unique code attached to records in our stock system that stay with the wood as it’s transformed and detail everything about the wood including the provenance.

 

MORE

Read more about Ash on our species page

Watch more videos about Ash on our youtube channel

Select and buy from current Ash hardwood stocks

Watch more videos on other Wood species

 

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