CORDIS - EU research results

Industrial Wood: European Industrialisation as Seen from the Forests (1870-1914)

Project description

The role of wood in European industrialisation

In recent times, new data has emerged that reveals the crucial role of wood in industrialisation, with increased consumption in key sectors. However, scholarly attention has often overlooked the significance of this material. Funded by the European Research Council, the INWOOD project aims to address this gap in knowledge by exploring the role of wood during the industrialisation period as well as the impact of industrialisation on forests and on the use of wood, with a focus on Europe between 1870 and 1914. Inspired by the recent debate on the ecological crisis, the project will analyse changes in wood consumption considering new industrial demands. Moreover, it will assess the impact of industrialisation on the people most involved in the exploitation of the woodlands, and study the evolution of the forest landscape in terms of both the extent of the forest cover and its features.


INWOOD studies industrialisation through the most important pre-industrial resource: wood. Scholarship on industrialisation has concentrated on the introduction and spread of new energy sources and materials, paying scant attention to the pre-existing resources. However, available data shows that wood was fundamental in the key sectors driving industrialisation, while its consumption increased during this process.
INWOOD analyses the role that wood played during industrialisation and the impact of industrialisation on the actors and sectors most involved in wood use, with a focus on Europe during the first globalisation (1870-1914). Inspired by current debates on ecological crisis and energy transition, the project pioneers an interdisciplinary and multi-scale approach to analyse the links between the following interrelated issues:
Economic dynamics on a macro scale: the changes in wood consumption in relation to industrial demands, but also the spread of alternative energy sources and materials; the transformation triggered by industrial technology in the geography of wood flows and in the logistics of the wood supply chain.
Social dynamics on a micro scale: the impact of changes in the wood economy on the populations living close to the woodlands, in both the areas that were central before industrialisation and those that became central because of it; the choices made by actors involved in the exploitation of woodlands when faced with these developments.
Ecological dynamics on multiple scales: the evolution of the European forest cover in terms of reforestation in some regions and deforestation in others; the main qualitative changes in the forest landscape in terms of tree species composition, age and density.
INWOOD integrates sources and analytical methods to change the way scholars understand industrialisation and to provide the historical context for present-day debate about the role of forests in climate change mitigation and biodiversity preservation.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 489 901,00
10124 Torino

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Nord-Ovest Piemonte Torino
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 489 901,00

Beneficiaries (1)