Specifying timber species in marine and freshwater construction

Specifying timber species in marine and freshwater construction

Date Published

14 August 2022

Document Type




Historically, the UK construction industry has favoured a narrow range of tried and tested hardwood timbers for use in marine and freshwater applications.

Over-reliance on a small number of species is not compatible within sustainable forest management, as certain species are being over-exploited. This is likely to reduce the security of supply and cause inflationary price pressures in the future.

This Wood Information Sheet provides guidance on the technical properties of a number of lesser-used species of hardwoods that may be used for marine and freshwater construction.

Key Information

Timber is an attractive choice of material in freshwater and marine applications.

Unsuitable timbers are at risk from fungi in freshwater, marine borers (gribble and shipworm) and abrasion.

Research for the Environment Agency identified five lesser-used species (LUS) of tropical hardwoods that are suitable in a variety of freshwater and marine situations where strength is critical.

Case studies

When the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded in 1986, it devastated the land and people of Belarus with radioactive fallout, contaminating a quarter of the country. A new timber chapel commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of that terrible event, which forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and land and settle elsewhere.

For Studio Weave, timber was the clear choice both for construction and cladding, reflecting the woodland context and with the ability to create a building with a domestic and nonthreatening quality.