An article in the October 6th issue of the New Yorker by Raffi Khatchadourian caught our eye recently as it discusses a problem that is very relevant to our business: timber smuggling. Although timber smuggling is not a headline grabbing occurrence, it is a very widespread issue with the majority of illegally harvested and traded timber ends up in Western markets such as the U.S. or Europe. Many of the illegal logs that end up in the U.S. originate in Russia or China, where unscrupulous loggers and timber traders illegally harvest valuable (and often protected) hardwood species. These operatives do not care about the long term sustainability and health of the forests that they exploit (see above picture from the FSC), the bottom line is all that matters. In this sense, illegal timber is clearly not environmentally friendly.
How can you know for sure your wood desk, coffee table, or other wooden furniture is made from legally harvested wood? It’s tough. Wood is such a ubiquitous materials that people often fail to consider where it originates from. Progress is being made, however. Organizations such as the Sustainable Forest Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) have developed labeling systems that make it easier to track chain of custody from the forest to the final product. Currently, this is the only reliable way that consumers have of being sure that their wood furniture comes from legal timber.
At Manchester Wood, we take timber smuggling and environmental sustainability seriously. We can guarantee that all of our wood home and office furniture is constructed out of legal, “green” timber. We ensure these standards by only buying American-grown timber. Stringent regulation in the U.S. means that American timber is harvested in accordance with the law. By eschewing international timber we are able to focus on building quality furniture without having to worry about the legality of our materials. Furthermore, we only buy timber that has been certified as eco friendly by the SFI. As product labeling and chain of custody tracking becomes more widespread, we hope to see timber smuggling and illegal harvesting decrease. Until that day, we work to ensure that all the timber we use is legally harvested from sustainable forests.