Builders, furniture makers, and even weekend hobby woodworkers all have one thing in common: respect for wood. Unfortunately, a by-product of that respect can easily be fear — fear of buying lumber because of rumors of a waning supply. Isn’t that part of being a responsible citizen and member of the planet? Maybe it seems that way, but as common as it is, such thinking is based in a false assumption.
We’d all like to think that tropical rainforests would be naturally protected and allowed to thrive without their being required to contribute valuable assets to the countries in which they’re found, but that’s simply not the case. If anyone is in doubt, they can read about the failed Yasuni-ITT initiative.
In case you aren’t familiar with this Ecuadorian attempt to appease environmentalists, essentially the South American nation asked the world to give them a monetary reason not to drill for oil. The reason they were allowing this untouched area to be “invaded” by machinery was financial, so they agreed to disallow drilling for oil if a fraction of the amount they stood to gain could be raised by those opposing the disruption. Despite several high-profile contributions, the percentage of the required amount actually raised was quite low.
While nothing like the ITT Initiative exists for lumber, the same scenario has been proven true: If land owners can’t make money within the lumber industry, investing in forestry management doesn’t make sense. Instead, 65-70% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is due to cattle ranching. Simply put, if land owners can’t make money with forestry, they will find another use for their land.
No matter what your name is or how famous you are, you can’t stop people from being motivated by the money they can make with their land. What can you do? You can do your part to continue making forestry management worthwhile by purchasing lumber. By contributing to the market, you are essentially helping trees to retain their value.
Without a marketable product, forestry companies will find buyers who produce plywood, particle board, paper, MFD, and other wood products that don’t require consistency of grain and quality. While they won’t make as much money, at least they’ll still make something. If a low profit margin continues, they’ll be forced to use their land for some other money-making venture.
If the current trend continues, 2x4s made from premium species such as Oak, Ash, and Cherry could very well be sold at the same price as those made from Fir and Hemlock today. It will be low quality lumber with high moisture content, leading to the wasting of high-quality wood. Currently, Cherry and Walnut sell at a higher price point because there is a demand for them; if that demand disappears, so will the lumber.
The bottom line is this: The #1 way to protect forests is to keep using what they produce.
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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.