Teak is one of the longest-known and most valuable timbers from Asia. Thanks to its high-quality timber, teak is cultivated and harvested in many tropical countries around the world.
Thanks to its extraordinary endurance and high resistance to fungus, termites and chemicals, teak is a structural timber for special requirements. As sawn timber for frame structures of all kinds, such as windows and gates; in shipbuilding for decks and superstructures, and in the chemicals industry for vats and extractors; in small cuts for art objects, carvings, signs and pedestal boards; its attractive wood surface makes it ideal as a worked veneer for furniture, panels and decorative design.
The excellent characteristics of teak are its very low rate of shrinkage - only half of that of oak, for instance - its very high resistance to weathering and fungus; it is water-repellent thanks to its natural oil content, and its preserving characteristics that prevent metal fittings and fixtures embedded in the wood from corroding.
There are estimated to be 6 million hectares of teak plantations in the world; 5.5 million of these are in Asia. Just 5 per cent of the world's teak plantation area is in Africa and 3 per cent in South America.
Demand is global, with the main purchasers coming from Asia, especially India but also from Europe and America.
Teak Holz International, based in Austria specialises in sustainable management of teak plantations in South America and is listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. THI Group provides forestry expertise as a service to external business partners, and handles international teak log sales. Managed teak forests on the Costa-Rican Pacific coast currently cover an area of about 1,934 hectares with about 1.6 million teak trees.
And trade is booming.
THI reported earnings of €8.4 million (Dh41.4m) for last year, up from €2.4m for 2011. The value of the company's biological assets - the stock of trees in its plantations - as of September 30, was €135m, up from €124m in 2011.
Teak is a growing business in more ways than one.
* with agencies