StadtWaldHolz: Bring a piece of the city forest into your home

The use of local, renewable resources, together with short supply chains, marks another important step towards increased climate protection. The wood harvested from Cologne’s city forest – the Stadtwald – is not only used in thermal energy recovery: some is also turned into products.

In the aftermath of Storm Wiebke in 1990, the owners of the small artisan company “Feines in Holz” (elegance in wood) wondered what was actually happening to the wood on their doorstep. After coming up with the initial concept of using and selling the wood locally, they continued to pursue the idea. Since then, the artisan company has gained a good deal of experience with various types of wood, works well with the forestry department, and sources wood exclusively from Cologne’s city forest. The business is therefore making high-quality and climate-friendly use of local resources.

Engine for progress:

  • use of local, renewable resources
  • short supply chains improve carbon footprint
  • strong identification with the city
  • creating awareness without lecturing

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Photo: Feines in Holz

The workshop where Cologne’s wood is worked. Cologne produces enough wood to allow scope for further processing. 

Local wood becomes furniture; shorter transport distances improve the carbon footprint

Regular thinning of Cologne’s 3,600 hectares of woodland means there is plenty of wood available for commercial use. Each year, a total of around 12,000 solid cubic metres of timber is harvested, approximately ten per cent of which is strong enough to make into sturdy furniture. At the moment, the company is only making products out of about 15 cubic metres of wood a year. There is still timber available to make more climate-friendly products. On average, one tonne of CO2 remains locked up in each solid cubic metre of wood (one cubic metre of solid wood substance). Vastly reduced transport distances also improve the carbon footprint.

Cologne operates sustainable forest management and has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) since 2002. By using local wood, it is also guaranteed not to have come from over-exploited forests or illegal logging. And we don’t need to forego the use of exotic species: garden furniture made from sequoia? No problem, that comes from the arboretum.

Furniture, stools, chopping boards or heating fuel

The products are sold under the brand StadtwaldHolz (city forest wood). In order to use as much wood as possible as a raw material for products, alongside furniture smaller products like stools or chopping boards are also being made. Only then are the scraps used for heating the working areas. This way, every Cologne resident can make further use of his or her forest. Among the products currently for sale are those that were manufactured from the plane trees that once stood in front of the opera house and had to be removed during its renovation.

Sustainability as corporate policy

The whole of the artisan business is geared towards sustainability. This goes from using green energy and natural raw materials in production, to climate-friendly company transport (in the form of their own delivery bicycle and local public transport), and finally to involvement in projects with the community and schools.

Photo: Feines in Holz

“It is very important to us to use local resources.”

Wilfried Nißing (l.) and Sabine Röser (r.),

Partners and sponsors

  • Feines in Holz