French Oak and British oak. Are they the same?
French Oak is a white oak, originating from two native French oak species. Some of the same species that grow in France grow in the UK too, but with some slight variations. The most common in the UK are the Quercus robur- (pendunculate oak), and the Quercus petraea – (sessile oak).

What makes a quality oak tree? What’s so good about French oak?
French Oak trees grow slowly, and the space between the growth rings is compact, yielding a tight, smooth grain. Of the world’s more than 430 species of oak, only 10 grow in France in significant numbers. Of those, only two are considered prime: Quercus robur and Quercus petraea.

French Oak is also prized for its tannin contents (You're probably more familiar with tannins in your teabag or glass of wine! Yes, they are the same thing). It’s a choice material for manufacturers of wood flooring and furniture. Species like the American Oak (Quercus alba) contain less tannins than its European counterpart.

The iconic FSC-certified oak tree. Sourcing the best quality tree.
French oak is harvested and graded under strict guidelines, the log is cut into four sections:

• A-section is the base of the tree and is used for barrels
• B & C-section is the middle of the tree and is used for joinery or flooring
• D-section is only used for external applications, such as railway sleepers.

There is a strict quota for the felling of trees, which takes place in winter when the sap is lowest and the trees are at their driest.

Meeting the Oak supply in France
The first French National Standard for forest management was approved by FSC International in 2017, and since then, FSC-certified forests areas have more than quadrupled (up to around 90 000 hectares since October 2021).

Increasing demand
FSC Chain of Custody certification in France developed quickly with wood being imported globally. The demand for FSC-certified products was supported by importers and traders, allowing manufacturing companies production in France.
FSC France is now concentrating on the development of local certified areas, supporting foresters to understand the implementation of FSC certification and its wide range of benefits.

One of the biggest changes of the past few years has been the certification of four forests managed by the State forest service, who manage 25 % of the global forest area in the country. Other stakeholders such as two of the main forest cooperatives, representing a potential of more than 3.7 million m3/year, are also engaged in FSC certification. Several other key players and front-runners in the private forest management sector are preparing for FSC certification in different regions. The interest of sawmills in FSC certification is also on the rise.

Studies conducted among French forest managers show they now have capacity and willingness to further develop FSC-certified areas.

FSC France now have staff dedicated to growing the market and building new connections between Chain of Custody certificate holders and foresters. If you need their support in sourcing French timber or encouraging French suppliers to seek certification, they will be happy to be of assistance.

Contact: Patrick Baraize
Supply Chains Development Officer
+33 6 75 59 67 76