Sustainably sourcing wood

Over recent years as concerns about climate change have grown, and deforestation across the world has increased at alarming rates; people have become more interested in making sure that they are sustainably sourcing wood. Whether you are looking for an interesting Monkey Puzzle Tree, the famous Mahogany, a Bristlecone Pine, an African Baobab Tree or Wenge; we should be able to admire these trees and let them flourish in the wild, whilst still fulfilling our needs for wood to make various products. If we properly source our wood when we are buying timber or something like a worktop, and farm trees more sustainably whilst reviving various habitats, this future is possible.

What actually is “sustainable” wood?

A lot of talk around the sustainability of wood has been had, but what actually does sustainably sourcing wood actually mean? It implies that the wood has been grown and harvested in a manner that “ensures healthy, continued, and sustainable growth”. This means that it is grown whilst trying to minimize the impact of logging. This is done by trying to protect forests and the surrounding wildlife that is negatively affected by the removal of those trees. Inherent in this question is that timber comes as a result of legal farming. This is not the product of illegal logging or any process that violates national or regional regulations. The majority of well-known firewood suppliers also often use sustainably-sourced wood, as part of their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. This means that the firewood comes from forests that have been managed in a way that ensures the protection of the environment and the preservation of local wildlife.

Make sure the companies you are buying from comply with regulations to eliminate illegal logging

There are regulations that currently exist across the world to help eliminate illegal logging. One of these pieces of regulation is the EU’s 2013 Timber Regulation, which prohibits illegally harvested timber and associated products from being sold in the EU, and also requires those placing timber products on the market to exercise “due diligence.”

There are other pieces of legislation across the world, such as the US Lacey Act, which targets the trafficking of wildlife, including plant life. This regulation requires companies to submit declarations on certain wood products, with information on the tree’s country of origin, species of tree, volume cut down, and value.

Companies need to source timber from a reputed logging contractor, who has a valid permit to harvest the trees. By doing so, it is possible to protect the wood’s legality and ethical sourcing. Timber that is sourced from reputed Loggers usually has a minimal environmental impact since the contractor is legally obligated to follow the governing body’s regulations. Moreover, it ensures a steady supply of lumber in the future by harvesting timber in a sustainable manner.

Make sure the wood comes from responsibly managed forests

Just as there are a variety of regulations out there to stop wood from illegal logging coming onto the market, there are a number of certifications that are used as a mark of sustainably sourcing raw materials. These certifications should be explained and understood by consumers, as a sign of how a business operates. The most widely regarded scheme of this kind is the FSC, which “ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.” If you can only use suppliers that comply with these standards, we can more greatly guarantee that the wood we are using has been sustainably sourced.

Greater transparency within the wood supply chain

Whilst you as a consumer can follow this advice, there is only so much you can do as an individual. There is a wider need for transparency within the supply chain. In the long term this is the critical factor to ensure a sustainable wood trade. Stakeholders at every level of the supply chain need to know where their raw materials are coming from and how they are sourced and processed. This would further help ensure that companies and producers are complying with the regulations and certification schemes we have already mentioned. As consumers we need to become more interested in the origins of the wood furniture we get from Ikea, or the cardboard packaging that comes with our Amazon packages, and getting more transparency from the companies that we source our wood from.