By Ron Howells • 05 July 2021 • 10:42
Catalan forests providing sustainable wooden home construction, image: Wikipedia
Sustainable wooden home construction is enhancing the Catalan forests.
The Catalonia region in Spain is one of the most forested areas in Europe with about 60% of its surface being tree-covered, a surprising fact is that it has more woods than Switzerland and Canada!
However, the region still continues to import wood from other countries for use in construction and building, using only between 5-10% of its timber for this purpose. The rest is used either to generate fuel, slats or pellets or to make packaging.
Wood as a sustainable building material is now experiencing huge growth; many companies, individuals and institutions are now choosing 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 wildfires, common in the summer period.
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, with the demand for sustainable homes growing by 30% every year.
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 sourced from Spain – a request that cannot always be guaranteed.
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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