I was lucky to spend some time in the Czech Republic recently, in the forests of the Sumava national park. There were some forest information boards on display there and they contained some truly astounding statistics.
In the forests of the Czech Republic the timber required for a high-quality family home grows in 108 seconds. To put that in perspective, there were 1,700 timber-based homes built in the Czech Rep in 2007. The timber for those grew in less than 2 days!
Obviously not all houses are built primarily of wood. But in any one year even if all the new-build houses in the Czech Rep were primarily timber, the required timber would grow in less than a month.
Taking that a bit further (stick with me for a moment, it’s worth it): for each European, 1 cubic metre (m3) of timber grows each year. So for a three-person family, over 80 years that’s 240m3. That’s enough to build a high quality home with good insulation and heat it for those 80 years, as well as make all the furniture, toys, musical instruments and leisure goods that the family might need. And of course it’s all totally recyclable through burning for fuel or re-use.
Not only that, but in those 80 years, another 240m3 of timber will have grown. Enough to do it all over again. Could there be a more sustainable scenario?
It all sounds too good to be true. Can we really just keep going or will we run out of wood somehow? Well, taking the Czech Rep again as an example, each year the total volume felled is less than the total amount of new-growth. In fact, so favourable are the ratios that every 2.5 years, the equivalent of one complete annual logging grows but is not felled.
It’s very unusual to read such shockingly good news. I thought I’d share it.
All the best,