Jaguar Walnut Wood - ecology

The Jaguar Walnut Wood gives a number of ecological benefits. Interest in planting walnut trees in the UK waned during the last 100 years as tropical hardwoods, such as mahogany, grew in popularity and became more available. But now supplies of tropical hardwoods are more rare, as consumers become aware of the impact of deforestation.
The Jaguar Walnut Wood's experimental zone is looking at how best to create quality walnut trees as timber for the future. "The research project pioneered by The National Forest, the Forestry Commission and Jaguar Cars is of national importance," says Lynne Richards, head of fundraising at The National Forest. "Its aim is to produce solid research that encourages people to plant walnut trees in Britain once more."


    The Jaguar Walnut Wood is located at Lount in the heart of Leicestershire, less than 50km from Jaguar's UK HQ. It was first planted on former farmland in 2001, but there are now more than 13,000 walnut trees and 70,000 other trees in a scenic 80-hectare woodland. Within it is a 27-hectare experimental zone researching the growth of different varieties of walnut tree for use as a hardwood timber and as a source of nuts.


    Trees from the Jaguar Walnut Wood won't be making their way into your next Jaguar, though. The walnut for Jaguars comes from continually replenished, sustainable sources in Italian and American plantations – both for quality of supply and to minimise the impact on the environment. "The walnut burl that we use is always a side product of walnut growth, and is only obtained once the life-giving span of the tree and its walnut yield is finally gone," says Dave Adey, Veneer Manufacturing Centre plant manager. "That takes between 50 and 60 years. The trees in Lount have been growing only eight years."


    When Jaguar decided to work with The National Forest on an ecological project in the UK, the creation of a walnut wood was the obvious choice. After all, walnut burl veneer has long been a popular interior trim choice for Jaguar owners. "There's a warmth and a depth of colour and feel to it," says Dave Adey, Veneer Manufacturing Centre plant manager. "It's like having a piece of quality furniture inside the car with you."


    The quality walnut wood that is used for the five-layer veneers in Jaguar cars comes from rare 'burl'. "Walnut burl is an underground growth that comes from a specific gene in the walnut tree that allows it to fight parasites and viruses," Veneer Manufacturing Centre plant manager Dave Adey explains. "It’s pretty rare in walnut trees and, as a result, walnut burl is a particularly valued wood, often saved for luxury applications such as high-quality cabinets."

    [Issue 1, 2009]

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