Wood is known to be one of the greenest materials that you can use for building, manufacturing and fuel. However it needs to be sourced carefully so that it doesn’t risk contributing to deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Fortunately there are a couple of resources available to help ensure that you keep using eco-friendly wood namely the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and Friends of The Earth’s Good Wood guide (FOE).
The FSC ensures that you are buying wood from sustainable sources, so for example if you decided that you wanted some wooden blinds for your new home then you seek out an FSC approved supplier. This means that you can be sure that the damage done is relatively minimal. Under the FSC forests have to observe the following rules:
- Only harvest what will grow back
- Protect biodiversity and endangered species
- Preserve rare and ancient trees
- Guard local streams
- Support indigenous peoples
- Use narrow skidding trails so as to ensure minimal disruption of the forest
- Ban replacement by tree plantations
- Ban toxic chemicals and genetically modified trees.
They aren’t perfect, but off all the forestry certification schemes they offer the greatest surety. They are also easy to find, look for the tree tick symbol to ensure your wood is green.
The FOE’s guide is a great way to check whether the wood you are buying is from an endangered species or not. In its online form it contains a near exhaustive list of tree species that are used for wood along with how threatened they are and whether they are easily available in the form of reclaimed wood. So for example if you look up Mahogany you will see that it is vulnerable but is available in reclaimed wood.
There are also several sources that you can expect to be greener than the alternatives. Reclaimed wood is a great example of this as a way of reusing wood. It is also reckoned to be stronger than newly cut wood having been weathered and aged for hundreds of years. You can also get VOC free wood composite products which are made from the waste products of manufactures. Both fill the promise of reusing wood making them the greenest option available.
If reclaimed wood is unavailable some woody plants such as some bamboo and palm species grow rapidly and are naturally pest resistant making them another good option for sourcing wood. In addition you can get both from FSC approved sources.