Along with ivory, diamonds, and other precious materials, there are some woods that have gone from prize to issue. It’s a bit of a faux pas for instance, to have ebony hewn, cut, shipped, assembled, sanded, and finished into a piece of furniture for your home. Wood is unique in being just about the only resource we use on a large scale that is renewable.
Some species, though, within their restrictions of habitat and place within their ecosystems, just can’t be renewed fast enough to keep up with the demands of their markets, and so it’s our job as consumers and craftsmen to make sure we stay clear of them.
Doing It The European Way
In general, trees don’t grow as fast as we would like them to. This is why what usually constitutes a safe source of wood is a protected source of wood.
European timber is famously regulated and monitored, which makes sense in conjunction with their population density, which may not be as great as that of Asia, but it’s spread very evenly, and there are not many trees on the European continent that wouldn’t go unmissed if spirited away during the night…or at least not many acres of trees.
There are some species you should avoid altogether. These include, sadly, some of the favorites, in every field of construction from furniture to musical instruments. Mahogany is being dropped off of production lines like crazy. Teak is another one, too, which is especially tough for furniture enthusiasts who want to keep their ecological footprint to a minimum. Others include sapelee, murbau, and wenge, which is most commonly used as a hardwood floor.
Stewarding In A Cleaner Operation
The Forest Stewardship Council (or FSC) is a group that was set up to help maintain an international responsibility for the trees we need, both to grow and to cut.
If you’re unsure about the validity of any lumber in terms of how green it is (pun intended), it’s not a bad idea to look for the FSC’s stamp of approval, which looks like a tree and a check mark put together, and has a unique certification number beneath it that allows you to identify the source of the wood the logo has been stamped to.
Continuing to recognize the FSC’s importance, and letting their seal carry the weight it deserves is a major step forward in the battle to keep the world as lush as it is. We can’t all go for long walks in the Siberian wilderness to bust illegal operations, but the FSC can and does.
While the FSC’s symbol guarantees that its carrier wood wasn’t part of a clear cut, there’s still a lot of clear cutting going on. Do your utmost to stand against it. Clear cutting doesn’t just look bad from a distance, leaving quilted patches all over the sides of hills. It also exposes the areas around it to damage from insects and opens up ground for invasive species like weeds and non-native trees, which have a tendency to grow and take over the landscape like an ameba.
Take A Stand
It’s not always easy, being green. Kermit the frog had it right. But the wood we cut is the wood we live in, with, and on.
Railings and floors and chairs are worn into familiarity by friends and loved ones over the years, and there’s no point in building a home if you’re going to be guilty all the time you’re breaking it in. The guilt, like the green effort, is righteous. So keep your eyes peeled and your ears open, and try not to pick a fight with mother earth.