Eco Friendly Wood

Deforestation and the threat of global warming have prompted the creation of eco-friendly wood certification programs to assure timber is harvested sustainably.


| February/March 1999



eco friendly wood - forest

Eco-friendly wood comes from forests that are selectively culled to preserve their integrity.


PHOTO: THOMAS/FPG

In many ways, worldwide forests now provide as much valuable shelter to us collectively when left standing as when cut to build our individual homes. After all, forests breathe. Big old-growth trees, whether in temperate or tropical forests, provide our hedge against global warming by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, and pumping oxygen into Earth's atmosphere. As the planet's biodiversity diminishes at an alarming rate, policy makers, and even loggers, increasingly accept that selective cutting is preferable to clear-cutting.

In the last 45 years alone, about one fifth of all forests worldwide have disappeared, reports the Worldwatch Institute. As of last year, more than 10% of the world's known tree species faced extinction, according to the World Conservation Union's "World List of Threatened Trees." In the United States, 95% of our original, old-growth forests have been logged. And, though we account for only 5% of the world's population, U.S. citizens consume 17% of global timber products.

While it is obvious that clear-cutting must be stopped, things have reached the point where the woodcutter can no longer be left to conserve that tree; the woodworker must begin to take responsibility, as well. Just as our hunger for wood has helped deplete this precious resource, consumer demand can now help support sound forest conservation practices. We can do this by choosing eco-friendly wood that's labeled with a "green" certification mark.

How does this work? To be certified, companies must show that their wood was not clear-cut, but instead harvested using sound forestry-management practices — including selective logging that permits regeneration of the forest, protection of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and support of indigenous communities.

During the past five years, ecologically certified woods have made a strong entry into the market, thanks to consumer demand. In 1997, EcoTimber, a wood supplier in San Francisco, told the Wall Street Journal that its sales of environmentally certified wood had increased fourfold that year and, at $2 million, accounted for two thirds of its business. Certified wood is now so widely available, it's even carried by Home Depot.

A wide variety of "green" wood is available, in sizes appropriate for any kind of project, from a simple bookshelf to a custom stairway, to flooring, walls, and beams. Species available include redwood, Douglas fir and madrone, black cherry and red oak, and even some tropical woods such as rosewood and purpleheart.





dairy goat

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.

LEARN MORE