About 2000 years ago, the Romans introduced sweet chestnut in the form of poles into The Netherlands. Since then, sweet chestnut trees have always been present although the wood has not always been actively used. Despite this, the demand in The Netherlands in the past five years for sweet chestnut wood has steadily been increasing. This can be related to the resistance of the general public to using tropical hardwood.
Sweet chestnut wood has good technical characteristics such as being very durable and easy to work with. It splits easily and poles can be delivered up to three metres long and up to 20 cm in diameter.
Use in The Netherlands is mostly restricted to sawn, split or round poles and grooved planks. Various types of fencing are also often seen in the fields. Sweet chestnut now forms a small but stable part of the internal market and is imported mainly from France, followed by Great Britain, Belgium and Germany. Most imported wood must be stripped of bark because of the danger of importing the dreaded disease known as sweet chestnut blight 'Cryphonectria parasitica'.
Distribution is restricted to a small number of timber traders who have built up a respectable supply of sweet chestnut products. However “Do It Yourself” chains currently do not have a supply of sweet chestnut wood because of lack of sufficient interest from their clients.
There are certainly more potential uses of sweet chestnut wood than that are currently being applied in The Netherlands. In other countries, sweet chestnut wood is used for parquet and floor boards. Furniture, panelling, window frames and doors are also other practical uses. Research is currently being carried out by Stichting Robinia to see if it is possible to introduce value-added applications of sweet chestnut such as for window frames.
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Sweet chestnut 'English' style fencing
Sweet chestnut 'English' style garden arch