Sustainable Wood – Marketing Ploy or Responsible Ply?

Sustainable Wood:
What started as a growing awareness in the 80's has developed into a major force of consumer revolution over the last decade. Recognition of 'Global Warming' has slowly grown and is now accepted as a real threat by many of the world’s most powerful governments, commercial markets and industry leaders.

What was seen, by some, as an unnecessary and excessive restriction on manufacturing and commerce that added to the costs of production and so reducing profits, has been spun by marketing managers in every sector to boost sales through boasting 'green' credentials to a public hungry to 'do their bit'. One such revenue raising label now commonplace is that of 'sustainable wood'.

What is 'Sustainable Wood'?

So, what is sustainable wood? Well, with so many products available marked as ‘from sustainable forest origin’ it's easy and probably wise to be sceptical. Many people could understandably assume that for every tree taken for industry from a “sustainable forest” then another tree is planted in its redress. Industry would therefore have no detrimental effect on the long term population of trees.

Sustainable woodAt a conceptual level this is the general idea but each tree taken has further ramifications for the eco-systems it supports in its vicinity and many other dependants. Replacing an area deforested of two thousand trees with two or even four thousand saplings in its place will not undo the chain reaction of ecological or social consequences that occur as the area adjusts to the change unless done in the right way.

Therefore, for the wood used in your oak front door to truly earn its “sustainable” tag it must have come from a source that maintains the regeneration capacity, biodiversity and productivity of the area it was taken. In more basic terms, sustainable wood comes from a sustainable forest that achieves a balance between the needs of consumer demands and the long term preservation of forest health, diversity and social function.

Sustainable Wood and Climate Change

So, why is sustainable wood so important to climate change? Climate change is now generally accepted, at least by academics and climatologists, as a bi-product of two different aspects of human interference. Firstly the collection of 'greenhouse' gases in the upper atmosphere traps thermal radiation that would otherwise have escaped into space and this causes the lower atmosphere and earth to heat up.

wood pileSecondly, a major greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. This gas is removed from the atmosphere by trees in a process that replaces it with oxygen. Careless and rash deforestation without replenishing trees reduces the number that can play their part in helping to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Rough calculations show that the manufacture of plastic creates one tonne of carbon dioxide to be released in to the atmosphere and so wood from sustainable sources used instead of materials such as plastic can be recognised as part of a genuine solution.

Global Awareness

Are humans really to blame and therefore how important is wood from sustainable forests? The answer to that question depends on where you live and what you do for a living. As long ago as 1992 a general framework was agreed by members of the United Nations to limit and ultimately prevent dangerous human interference of the climate system. But there has been an increase in global emissions every year since then and while the problem may be global, the concern is mostly western. Indeed, a recent survey across over one hundred and twenty countries showed a third of the world’s population is not even aware of global warming. Even sectors of developed countries with more widespread access to free media contest that changes are even happening to the global climate, let alone that humans are to blame.

PEFC certificationIf you look at the facts and conclude that global warming is actually happening, due to a number of factors including deforestation, then choosing products from considerate and responsible firms can help us all feel like we're 'doing our bit'.

However, as discussed earlier, many are sceptical about the true environmental qualities a product has and so several officially recognised organisations have been set up so consumers can trust the claims on the packaging. One is the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and another is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both offer reliable certifications that the manufacturers claims about the origin of the wood have been checked and validated so you could sleep a little easier in that oak framed double bed you were thinking of buying...

UK Oak Doors are proud of the fact that we only use fully certified sustainable wood from sustainable European forests. So if you're looking for a solid oak door that literally won't cost the earth then you've come to the right place.

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