Gaia has long promoted the use of timber in construction and was the UK partner in a project to investigate the potential for the use of roundpole. The aim was to improve local economies and increase the competitiveness of timber construction and wood product industries in Europe's Northern Periphery.
This project involved investigating and developing specific commercial and employment opportunities that added value in rural areas through the use of use of logs and other timber in the round within the framework of a sustainable, ecologically sound silviculture.
Silvicultural practice in the Northern Periphery is characterised by frequent thinning to encourage maximisation of forest growth. This results in significant quantities of small dimensioned roundwood for which there is traditionally little developed commercial use beyond cellulose and chippings. Local added value is low.
The project identified applications in housing, public and farm buildings; informal structures; paths; bridges; fencing and playground furniture. Examples provided ranged from visitor centres and demonstration structures to path edgings, fence posts to rugby posts. Several non-round applications were also identified, including sawn timber of various dimensions and chippings for cattle corral filtration systems.
Gaia's straw bale office was an offshoot of the research. The research made a significant contribution to advancing the use of timber and laid the foundation for the development of mass timber by Gaia in Scotland.
The complete findings can be viewed on the roundpole website: http://www.gaiagroup.org/Research/RI/PAS/roundpole/index.html