Whether you’re a boat builder, furniture maker, professional builder, or weekend woodworker, you can buy wood without feelings of guilt or fear over whether you’re hurting the environment and contributing to a waning supply. Hopefully, we can help arm you with knowledge about how the lumber and forestry industries interact and how you’re actually helping establish the value of wood every time you buy it. (This is true for both domestic and exotic lumber species.)
By purchasing lumber, you’re actually helping encourage responsibly managed, healthy forests. As someone who appreciates the natural beauty and global benefits of a forest, I could present a pretty compelling persuasive argument for its having intrinsic value. If I were in a debate, I might win; in a class, I might get an “A.” But in the real world, that simply doesn’t matter. (Just read about the failed attempt of the highly controversial Yasuni-ITT initiative in Ecuador, if you don’t believe me.)
With wood still the primary material used for building, forestry companies are motivated to invest in managing lands used for forestry chiefly because of the wood’s value as a salable resource.
When the lumber industry becomes less lucrative, the motivation for land owners to spend their valuable time and money managing forests simply isn’t there. If the market for high-quality hardwoods and softwoods wanes, buyers will use the wood to produce plywood, particle board, paper, and MDF. How do such uses affect the forests? Because they don’t require particular grain or consistency, the quality will not be as significant for forestry companies to manage. Even worse, additional industries will vie for the land, leading to clear cutting.
An additional result of the devaluation of lumber — whether through logging bans or decreasing market demand — is lower quality building materials and formerly “showpiece” species such as Walnut and Cherry being sold for prices similar to Fir. Why? If there isn’t a market demand for the premium species, they’ll eventually lose their value, because value is driven by the market.
Hopefully you’re beginning to understand how your purchasing quality wood helps protect forests and the future availability of such lumber. A healthy market for quality lumber influences forestry management and regulation; a healthy market for quality lumber relies upon woodworkers of all kinds to continue to verify the value of this timeless natural resource.
As a user of fine hardwoods and softwoods, you may have thought you were just earning a living, or building a boat, or enjoying a productive hobby. But you’ve actually been doing much, much more: you’re protecting the future of the lumber industry, the health of forests throughout the globe, and the entire ecosystem. Far from a culprit, you’re a hero of rainforests. A hero without a cape.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.
Image credits: Top © Sunny Studio/Fotolia; 2nd © Monkey Business/Fotolia; 3rd © John Keith/Fotolia.