Outdoor play areas: key industry concerns

26 Apr 2018

Jungle gyms, swings, and playgrounds? Guaranteed good times for little ones! However, public parks and recreation spaces need regular upkeep and maintenance to remain safe to use. To find out more, we talked to Lionel Paponneau, Head of Commercial Development at Boisdexter, one of France’s leading outdoor play area specialists.

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Could you tell us some more about your customers?

Our customer base can be divided roughly in two: local government agencies and sports clubs or other private establishments. We have a close relationship with our clients, as most of our products require significant maintenance and upkeep. Some Boisdexter products are over 20 years old – and still in working order!

What steps is the industry taking to remain environmentally friendly?

At Boisdexter, we use wood that’s been chemically treated in order to slow the deterioration process. This process – known as ‘autoclaving’ the wood – is strictly controlled by legislation intended to limit its environmental impact. France’s Technical Center for Wood and Furniture Industry (CETIBA) has conducted numerous tests on how the autoclaving process is carried out. The results have shown that this treatment doesn’t produce any secondary pollutants. In spite of the industry’s best efforts, we’re sometimes faced with difficult choices about provenance and sustainability while remaining environmentally friendly. Some of our customers prefer natural wood (e.g. acacia), which is sourced from forests in Poland or Brazil. Unfortunately, importing raw materials on this scale has serious consequences for the environment. These become even more significant when the wood fails to meet existing safety standards. It’s important that the lumber industry, as well as architects and government agencies, remain aware of the impact sourcing can have on the environment.

How is the outdoor recreation sector evolving?

The way we approach building recreational spaces has significantly changed over the last few decades. Today, parks and outdoor play areas are much more fun and interactive, as well as being designed to be more ‘at one’ with surrounding green spaces. At Boisdexter, we work regularly alongside landscapers to install equipment or ensure outdoor play areas maintenance.

How do you see the industry changing in the years to come?

Security and sustainability are two of the most important issues currently affecting the outdoor play areas maintenance. As such, we’re committed to using locally produced materials to help ensure the lumber future and other related industries. Our thanks to Lionel Paponneau for his expertise about outdoor play areas maintenance and installation.  

Photo credit: Pexels / Anthony

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