Alternative hardwood timbers for use in marine and fresh water construction

This project explored the use of lesser known hardwoods for marine and freshwater construction, in order to support more sustainable forestry options.


Alternative hardwood timbers for use in marine and fresh water construction - summary (55KB) PDF

Alternative hardwood timbers for use in marine and fresh water construction - technical report (1.2MB) PDF

External link: Assessment of the durability and engineering properties of lesser-known hardwood timber species for use in marine and freshwater construction - technical report

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A research project commissioned by the Environment Agency on lesser known species of hardwood timber has generated technical data which will allow engineers to use a wider range of timbers for marine and freshwater marine construction. This would then support more sustainable forestry on a global scale.

Timber is a renewable resource and an environmentally acceptable choice of construction material if obtained from a recycled source or well managed forests. A narrow range of “tried and tested” tropical hardwood timbers are normally used for these applications, with Greenheart and Ekki being the preferred choice in many cases. However, this over-reliance on a few species is not compatible within sustainable forest management in the longer-term. Certain species are being over-exploited, causing supply issues and price rises.


The main obstacle preventing the wider use of lesser known species is a lack of reliable technical data on their performance. The marine and freshwater construction industry is generally reluctant to use timber species without a proven track record. This research project aimed to encourage the specification and use of a number of lesser known hardwood timber species, as alternatives to Greenheart and Ekki.


The results of the research will be of interest to anyone who uses timber in marine and freshwater applications, particularly:

  • structural and civil engineers
  • design consultants
  • building contractors
  • asset managers

The results have been brought together in a user guide, containing a step by step methodology for identifying the most suitable timber species for different uses. This includes tables of technical data on the key properties of a range of lesser known species.

The project was started in March 2008 and completed in July 2011.

Published 21 February 2021