From tree to wood
Our forests fulfil many different functions and are supposed to meet many different demands: they are the habitat for a great diversity of flora and fauna, they provide us with wood, a most important natural resource, they generate income for the forest owners, and for society in general their main function is providing relaxation and recreation.
- The forest as a habitat: In the German federal state "Baden-Württemberg", the state law definition of "forest" is “an area stocked with trees and shrubs”. A forest, however, is much more than the sum of all its trees, bushes and shrubs.
- Functions of forests: A forest or wood is more than just the number of trees in it. Besides being suppliers of timbers, our forests also have important protective and recreational roles to play.
Depending on their location, forests perform different protective functions that should not be underestimated in the benefits they provide for people as well as flora and fauna: the protection of soil, water and the climate, protection from avalanches and landslides, as well as from emissions, and finally as a haven for all animal and plant species adapted to a forest existence.
For the public, the main focus lies on the forest’s recreational role as an area for relaxation. To find out more, click here.
Here you can find out all the important information on the economically significant wood species, in particular those used in construction and civil engineering, gardens and landscaping.
To be able to distinguish the various types, their typical characteristics are described. This detailed account of their physical and technical qualities, such as their workability, durability and permeability, will enable you to select the appropriate wood type for a particular application field, based on their strengths and weaknesses.
- Pine: With almost 100 different species, the pine is one of the most common conifers in the northern hemisphere. The Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) can be found in the whole of Europe, also spreading north-eastwards as far as Siberia.
- Spruce: As a solid wood, the spruce (Picea abies) is the most used conifer in Germany.
- Fir: Indigenous to Europe, the Silver Fir (Abies alba) is is one of around 50 Abies species that belong to the pine (Pinaceae) family.
- Larch: The Larch (Larix decidua) is the only native conifer species to shed its needles in autumn. Larch wood is particularly known for its decorative colouring.
- Douglas fir: The Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is a tree from the Douglas family (Pseudotsuga spp.), which only has six species, four native to East Asia and two in the western regions of North America. Since the 19th century, the Douglas fir has been cultivated in Europe and for around 120 years in Germany, too.
- Oak: The oaks (Quercus spp.) are a sub-species of the beech family (Fagaceae), with over 400 species worldwide. In Europe, two species are native: the Sessile oak and the Common oak. In Germany, mainly in mixed woodlands, the Sessile oak is predominant.
- Beech: The beech (Fagus spp.) belongs to the beech family (Fagaceae). Two species are native to Europe. In the mountains of south-eastern Europe, the northern Asia Minor region, northern Iran and in the Caucasus, the oriental beech (Fagus orientalis) is found, whereas the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica) ranges from southern Scandinavia to Sicily.
- Black locust: Initially introduced to Europe from North America as an ornamental plant, the Black Locust has proved itself an economically very useful timber. For forestry operation, the tree is of great interest, as it is able to bind nitrogen with the help of bacteria living on its root system.
- Bangkirai: In recent years, the heavy wood types from the Shorea sub-species have been increasingly gaining importance. The timbers of this group, covering roughly 20 species of tree, are known in the Malaysian language region as “Balau" or, due to the yellowish colouring of the freshly cut timber, “Yellow Balau". The commonly occurring and highly valued wood from the Shorea laevis species is traded in Indonesia under the name “Bangkirai”.
In the description of individual wood species, you can find extensive information on the properties of each particular timber.