All of us have read and heard about the consequences of global warming on our planet. Numerous recent large scale scientific reports have shown that the effects of global warming are significantly greater than previously estimated. The recent discover of multiple interacting feedback loops effecting global warming has caused scientists to increase their predictions of dire consequences to the planet during our lifetime. Time magazine (www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1176980,00.html) and National Geographic Magazine (magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0409/feature1/index.html) recently published detailed summaries of the effects of global warming on the earth. When we utilize tropical hardwoods, we may be contributing to the destruction of rain forests. The leading cause of tropical forest loss is from farmers who burn the forest to create pasture for cattle. Commercial logging of a few species still contributes substantially to rain forest destruction. We, as woodworkers do not want to contribute to a problem that threatens our future.
A local hardwood lumber company, Eco Timber, (www.ecotimber.com) obtains lumber from trees that were grown and harvested in a way that protects forests for the long term use. Buying plantation grown lumber avoids the problem of not knowing if the wood you purchased was obtained from clear cutting a rain forest.
A few lumber companies are offering a variety of local hardwood salvaged from old buildings. Heritage salvage in Petaluma sells reclaimed oak and old growth redwood from old buildings. (www.heritagesalvage.com)
Cajun Cypress & Hardwoods sells cypress lumber that has been cut from logs that have been submerged in mud and water in the swamps and bayous of Southern Louisiana for 50 to 150 years. (www.woodfloorsonline.com/manufacturers/cajun_cypress.html)
Wood certification is a way to determine if the wood was grown and harvested in an ecologically sound manner. There are four major certifying standards: Forest Stewardship council (FSC), the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management Standard (CSA), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and The Pan European Forest Certification Scheme (PEFC). Forest Ethics, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club of Canada confirm FSC as leading certification system. A detailed comparison of these certification schemes is provided in this document: www.fern.org/pubs/reports/behind/btlrep.pdf. The two major certifying agencies in the U.S. are Smart Wood (www.rainforestalliance.org/programs/forestry/smartwood) which is accredited by FSC, and Scientific Certification Systems (www.scscertified.com) which also follows FSC guidelines. Buying wood that has been certified is a small effort that may increase the supply of quality hardwood available to us and to our children and is something that we can do prevent further destruction of our planet.