2020 Sustainability Report

52 Ecology Thanks to the pleasing growth in the Home, Office and Customized Furniture areas of busi- ness, we once again used more solid wood (+3%) in Bützberg during this reporting period than in 2017/2018. In 2019 we used a total of 710 m 3 of sawn timber, and 788 m 3 in the following year. In 2020, 99.8% of the wood came from European, sustainably managed forests. This high figure is due to the fact that Girsberger does not offer or process any exotic timbers, and the so-called American black walnut (Juglans nigra) comes exclusively from European forests. This wood should really be called European black walnut, but the term is not yet widely used on the market. The growing trend for using oak of all kinds continued in 2020 and by the end of the year it accounted for a record 59.8% of the wood we used (471 m 3 of a total 788 m 3 ). Black walnut also continues to be very important, accounting for 17.8% (135 m 3 ). It is followed by elm at 7.5% (59 m 3 ) and European walnut at 5.5% (43 m 3 ). These four woods alone represent 90.6% of our total usage. The market continues to demand characterful, preferably dark woods with a strong grain pattern (ring-porous). So it is no wonder that practically all the ring-porous woods such as oak, black walnut, elm and European walnut have been widely used and very popular for some time. Another ring-porous wood is fifth in our list of most popular timbers: ash heartwood. We are, therefore, making good use of our local ring-porous timbers. Sustainable forest management is a high priority for us. In that respect, the various eco-certificates and labels currently in use do not offer us enough security. Although they are awarded by several different institutions, associations and independent test institutes, there is often inadequate regular monitoring once the certificate has been issued. That’s why it is all the more important for us to know exactly where our solid wood comes from. In order to guarantee that our solid wood comes from sustainable forests, our specialist experts at Girsberger inspect it at sites across Europe before buying. This local assessment and procurement does bring with it a regular high cost because of the need to travel to often very remote woodland areas of Europe. However, that expense is worth it, because it means we can follow the trees on their journey right through from the log to the finished end product: from the very start, be that actually in the forest or in the clearings where the tree trunks are collected up, through the work at the sawmill, processing in the steam chamber and storage in the open air, sometimes for years – followed by kiln drying. Con- sequently, we are in control at all times of where the tree trunks have come from and how they are matured, right through to becoming a usable raw product. As we have built up our wood trading business, which since 2014 has been a separate business unit, our own need for solid wood has come to be of secondary importance. We currently have stocks of about 3500 cubic metres of air- and kiln-dried wood available at our storage sites in Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria, ready for our wood-process- ing customers to make their choice. The challenge over the coming years will continue to be how to accurately estimate our requirement for timbers of all kinds. Oak in particular has to be stored for a very long time before it can be processed in a way that meets our high quality standards. The period between cutting the logs and processing is never less than three to five years – depending on the thickness of the boards. We have to consider now what quality, thickness and finish might be required for oak in three to five years’ time. When buying timber, making the right, well-planned and forward-looking decisions today has an impact not only on com- mercial success and optimum availability but also on our ecological footprint. The more finely tuned our stocks, the more prudent we can be in our use of the valuable raw material Use of wood as a raw material “ 99.8% of our solid wood comes from European and sustainably managed forests. ” Peter Reichen Head of Wood Trading, Girsberger AG