Tropical Hardwood Forest Conservation

Suggestions for Legal and Responsible Wood Buying

  • Look around for a seller that gives complete information regarding all of the tropical woods, especially: the precise scientific name of species (required to be on the Lacey Export/Import Declaration) and the country of harvest (same). There is a lot of smuggling of wood through intermediaries; you need to know the country of harvest because that is where the laws protecting the reserves and species are enacted that Lacey enforces here.
  • Ask to see papers demonstrating compliance with the Lacey Act. The Lacey Declaration Form is very brief and should be available. Of course, unless the wood is certified by FSC or another independent body, there is no tracking system that proves that the wood in question is the wood listed in the forms. Therefore, certified wood is always preferable. International wood traders I interviewed acknowledged that a large percentage of tropical wood imported here is illegal. The market is not developed yet for buying certified exotics in small lots. We need to force this market to develop by asking for certification.
  • The list of more than 100 tropical species here shows the IUCN Red List ranking of "exotic wood" species endangerment. You want to avoid threatend and endangered species. IUCN is very far behind in its assessment of plants and animals, but it is the best out there.
  • If the species is threatened, but the seller claims it is legal anyway and there are papers, you should consider other woods that are comparable. Alternative species of great beauty are being discovered and grown all around the world. To save wild forests and ensure legal compliance, consider buying alternative species with beauty and character that are not threatened. Reclaimed wood and plantation-grown wood often provide quality with far less environmental impact.
  • If the seller is FSC or otherwise certified, you can check the certification by going on the Internet website of FSC. The certification may be for a different species in a different country.
  • Commit yourself to this effort. The LEED building campaign in America has grown from nothing to a huge, successful "green building" movement. It costs more obviously to trade with FSC guarantees. Be willing to pay the premium. You purchase a small amount of tropical wood individually.
  • Next ... >> Building the Woodturner Conservation Campaign >>

    Copyright © 2009 by Bradford F. Whitman. All rights reserved.