Hardwood and Garden Furniture
William Armitage, Armitages Garden Centre
Tropical hardwood takes several generations before it becomes economically
viable to fell.
A sustainable forest is one that is replanted every year with
an amount of trees to replace the projected harvest quantities.
This is quite simple with temperate region plantation softwood;
if it's for paper, chip board or MDF then up to 20 years old, 30
years for construction timber, these time scales are relatively
easy to estimate quantities for as the increase in demand is pretty
constant, however when you are trying to estimate demand for fashionable
hardwood furniture for 100 years in the future, it is impossible.
Therefore to say that any hardwood is from a sustainable forest
is a bit risky, though plenty of manufacturers do.
The word plantation in this country is given to mean a block of
timber planted with the intention of harvesting, in the developing
world it is the other way round, it is a block of primary rainforest
that the government has given over to be harvested with the intention
of re-planting, more often that not, it is not replanted, economical
pressure takes over and the land is used for subsistence farming,
you can't knock em, people have to eat. (incidentally, the size
and shape of the block is not decided by environmental constraints
like Orang Utan habitat or river basin flood soaking, there is a
direct correlation between the size of the plantations and the amount
of debt the government is in).
The only countries that actively re-plant hardwoods are the countries
that don't much care for their people, so if a furniture manufacturer
wants the closest thing to sustainable they have to buy their timber
from Military Dictators.
The furniture we sell is from FSC accredited manufacturers,
Forest Stewardship Council are backed by (among
others) B&Q they monitor the hardwood timber industry and try
to regulate it, they are still pretty much in their infancy but
they are trying to make a difference, even though it is the saw
mill that is accredited and not the logger, the chaps with the big
saws will fell anything, but they can get more money for their logs
if they are from designated plantations that match the standards
laid down by the FSC. I do not believe illegal logging will ever
stop, however this system means that illegal loggers don't make
as much money, carrots are much more effective than sticks.