Building bridges for lesser known species
FSC Denmark has launched a programme, backed by European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) project and Action Plan funding, to broaden application of sustainably sourced tropical timber on the Danish market and increase use of lesser known timber species (LKTS).
The initiative will include development of an LKTS market network and construction of a showcase timber bridge, using a range of lesser known varieties.
FSC Denmark said its project would build on its work over the last three years to increase LKTS market share in Denmark. This included research into continuing barriers to their use among specifiers and end users. These, it found, included:
- convenience and security of staying with tried and tested species
- low awareness of LKTS’s technical performance and potential applications
- tropical timber’s poor environmental image
- growing competition from alternative materials
- concerns over availability
On the positive side, FSC Denmark research also identified growing interest in LKTS among architects and their clients, increasing its confidence that now is the time to give them added market impetus.
The initial task under its STTC funding will be to develop the LKTS communications network, including Danish importers, suppliers, NGOs and other stakeholders. It’s an idea based on a network concept started by the Dutch body and STTC founder IDH, the sustainable trade initiative.
“Network members can use it to share knowledge and ideas on promoting LKTS to the building sector,” said FSC Denmark.
Another first step would be the public sector showcase project in Aarhus. This will comprise renovation of the city’s old ‘Coalbridge’ to form a park and walkway, similar to New York’s ‘Highline’, plus renewal of the neighbouring industrial harbour area. The goal will be to create an iconic city landmark and it will entail engaging the municipal authorities, so the decking is specified entirely in LKTS, with members of the network supplying the material.
“It will allow suppliers to conduct practical testing of selected species, and at the same time act as corporate social responsibility marketing,” said FSC Denmark.
Results of testing will be made public and the bridge will form part of the publicity campaign around Aarhus becoming European City of Culture next year.
FSC Denmark will also host two major events around the project and it will feature in an exhibition in Aarhus in March linked to Building Green, Denmark’s leading sustainable construction trade fair.
Participants in the bridge build will include at least eight private sector companies and all involved who are not yet in the Coalition must join as participants.
As part of the wider project, FSC Denmark will additionally develop its LKTS website, www.lesserknowntimberspecies.com, and launch an outreach programme to the Danish Timber Trade Federation.