A wonderful and very sustainable climate: when building stables, you can not avoid this raw material.
Cavallo: Mr. Fink, what are the advantages of wood as a building material for barn construction?
George W. Fink: Wood is the most natural, environmental and sustainable building material. Since it is a renewable raw material, no resources are used, carbon dioxide is bound during growth, remains in the wood and is only released when it burns or rots. Large amounts of other building materials such as concrete and brick can be substituted for wood, all of which require a lot of energy to produce, and therefore have a poor carbon dioxide balance. The wood is also very easy to use and guarantees a healthy and stable microclimate! The more wood is used in horse dwellings, the better the ecological footprint.
How do I know if my wood is from sustainable local stock? The word “home” always means: Europe, not necessarily from Germany. To ensure quality in this country, DIN 1052 applies to certified wood. The EUTR has also been in force since 2013. This aims to prevent timber from being illegally sourced and therefore unsustainable. Basically, you can only harvest as much as you will grow again.
Are there other criteria such as processing and transportation? Reputable PEFC and FSC labels certify forests and the entire supply chain – right down to the final product. Wood with this certification is sustainable at a high level: timber harvesting and logistics are always valued. Nature conservation and social norms are mandatory.
The term ecological wood seems rather vague… This is correct. There are many organic seals, but the terms “organic” and “eco” are not protected in the woodworking industry! It seems that only the “Naturland” sign created by Greenpeace is recommended. However, there are currently only 19 companies in Germany that are engaged in forestry under this nomenclature.
Does the so-called ecological wood have advantages in terms of durability or processing? No, they differ only in terms of production, and not in quality and workmanship. Cultivation according to environmental regulations means that no chemical agents of any kind are used and that extra hand care is required. Labeling and control also incur costs. In addition, eco-labels exist only for a few types of wood. All of this easily costs between 50 and 80 percent more.
A lot of wood comes from Africa or Asia, for example…Bongossi is used the most, followed by Denya and Bilinga. All three are imported wood and come mostly from uncontrolled cultivation. Therefore it is classified as environmentally questionable! I only know the Bongossi grower from Togo: if she comes from here, the ecological balance is less dramatic because the wood grows again. Wood produced in this way must comply with the EUTR regulation. However, it is not always clear to what extent these woods meet PEFC or FSC standards.
For which barn area should lumber be used? Bongossi wood is not suitable for outdoor use. This is where it tends to crack and split. Due to its high strength and impact resistance, bongoose wood is best suited for speaker panels and interior wall panels. Denya wood is recommended to be used outdoors, as it becomes less brittle when exposed to sunlight. Beech and pine are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, but are not as strong as tropical hardwoods. Robinia wood is suitable for indoor and outdoor use, provided it is free of bark, bark, cambium and well seasoned. Softwoods are not suitable for horse access due to the risk of bites.
What else should be taken into consideration? In addition to origin and quality, a balanced moisture content is important. The wood should be as moist as the surrounding air. Box boards should always be stored for several weeks in a well-ventilated area in your planned stable. The panels must be separated by narrow strips so that air can flow around all four sides. This is time consuming, but worth it to avoid spoilage.
George W. Fink, 72, has been an expert in planning and building riding stables for 45 years. He is the owner and managing director of the Fink Reitanlagen engineering office based in Aufkirchen / Bavaria. www.fink-reitanlagen.de
Environmental Group: Agroforestry
Agroforestry was already in the Middle Ages, but is now being considered again: woody plants are combined with arable crops or grasslands, for example in the form of orchards. The area under and next to trees can also be used for animal husbandry. Of the many advantages (such as erosion and protection of groundwater, increased soil fertility): trees and shrubs provide grazing animals protection from wind, sun and rain. More information: agroforst-info.de