What is French Oak?
French Oak comes in two species that varies from region to region. The consistency and quality of the Oak can be obtained from not mixing species and the age of the trees. The direct result of this method keeps them at around 200 to 250 years old.
Timber that is processed in France is separated into four sections according to its usage:
- A-section: it’s the base of the tree and is used for barrels
- B & C-section: middle of the tree used for joinery or flooring
- D-section: used for external application, such as railway sleepers.
French oak is processed and graded using strict guidelines by FNB (National Wood Federation), which manages many of the sawmills in France. They have very clear grading rules and methods for drying. Many products made with French Oak have single origin material, which guarantees consistency and the quality of the finished product.
Renaissance Parquet sources all their Oak from France, and additionally provides certificate of origin and country of harvest declaration, to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for.
Sustainably Managed Forests
As far as our oak flooring is concerned, whether it’s strip flooring or parquetry, comes from trees that are up to 200 years old. This is a sustainable supply, because 200 years ago there were people out there making sure these trees would last for years to come.
Australia’s managed forests are very young compared to the system that the French people put into place for almost 700 years. The French people have always respected oak for its environmental and economical benefits from the outset and throughout.
The first French forestry code was written in 1346, when modern day management started under Louis; the 14th Prime Minister Jean Baptiste Colbert who, between 1661 and 1669 restructured all royal domain forests. The jewel in the crown was, and still is the “Tronçais” forest (pictured above), which can unquestionably be considered the finest oak forest in Europe.
In the 17th century, sustainability was not considered an important manner like it is today. All available timber was utilised for creating warships and other creations. As other countries could freely consume the Tasmanian Huon pines, France was to rely on what they had within their country, therefore a lot of planning and management towards their forests was essential. Sustainability was not the sole reason why these forests were created – they were created for commercial purposes. Although France never really utilised this forest, the end result was extensive planting and available tree sources. This encouraged ongoing management to maintain this reserve of oak.
Nowadays 50% of commercial French oak comes from ONF managed national or local communities forests. This includes 12 million hectares out of the whole 17 million hectares of forests, representing 30% of the French territory. Our main supplier operates under a PEFC agreement – the European equivalent of the FSC.