Oak

Oak
A slow growing tree known for its strength. There are different oaks such as English oak or American oak. This sturdy material can last a long time and is used for many purposes, some gardening examples being sleeper flower beds and furniture. 

Pros

Cons

- Oak is a non-endangered durable wood of high strength. (ref)

- It is possible to get FSC certified Oak, which is more sustainable and reliable than non certified woods. (ref)

- The FSC are making efforts to combat illegally logged Oak, helping to ensure its suitability as a material. (ref)

- It can be sourced locally, and locally sourced woods travel less distance, reducing their carbon footprint and energy required to transport the wood. (ref)

- Oak does not need to be kiln dried, an advantage that means less energy is required in its creation. (ref) 

- From 2010-2018, the Forestry Commission planted almost 1.7 million Oak trees in the UK, most designated to provide high quality timber in the future. (ref) It is unknown how many will/ have survived, however.

- Sources of Oak can be problematic, UK, American and Australian sources are usually sustainable, however, Poland, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, Estonia and France can be problematic in terms of sustainability of the wood and the biodiversity it supports. (ref) Poland's trees are vulnerable and is being harvested, destroying biodiversity. (ref) A lot of Russia's logging is legal, however Russian oak is illegally harvested for China, who will use the wood and process it, (ref) hiding its illegal origin and selling the product on EU markets(ref) Along with this, Russian Oak harvests are replaced with trees that are not Oak. (ref)

- Depending on where the Oak is sourced, it may travel a large distance, increasing the energy consumption and CO2 emissions it takes to get to a garden.

- Oak can be expensive. (ref)

- It is slow growing, potentially taking up to 150 years until it can be harvested. (ref)

Oak Summary

Oak is a strong hardy wood that can be sourced locally. This makes it a good wood to use in gardening, and the UK has taken measures to ensure the wood's sustainability. Despite this, however, foreign Oak's sourcing is uncertain, as there are examples of Oak trees not being replaced with the same species. Along with this, there is evidence of illegal harvesting, (this impact is felt even more due to the fact it takes 150 years for Oak to be harvested, and is hard to replace), these processes are not environmentally friendly and reduce the sustainability of the wood, emphasised even more if Oak is imported in using fossil fuels, which releases CO2 into the environment. To combat this, FSC certified wood helps to ensure the sourcing of the wood is sustainable and should be purchased over uncertified wood. Local Oak should also be purchased over foreign wood. Other woods can also be used instead of Oak, with Cedar or even Acacia and Douglas-fir being candidates.

It may be worth considering the fact that most UK gardens seem to be replaced within 20-30 years, be that through redesign or a new home owner altering the garden. If a garden will be replaced in a short period of time, it may not be worth using longer lasting materials that will not be able to live out there full potential, and a more sustainable, faster growing and faster degrading wood may be applicable, such as a species of Pine.

Other Woods