Friday, April 15, 2011

How To Purchase Eco-Friendly Wood and Why It's Important

FSC ecolabel.Image via WikipediaBy Vanessa Po

Instead of completely avoiding the purchase of new wood products, consumers interested in the well being of the environment should instead seek to purchase wood products from environmentally conscience wood providers that are practicing sustainable and renewable forestry.

What is sustainable and renewable forestry?

Sustainability, when referring to a forest's ecosystem, is the ability for that ecosystem to remain healthy and productive over an extensive period of time. Although, the ability for an ecosystem (such as a forest or rainforest) to remain healthy is extraordinarily important for the well-being of the Earth, other factors such as profit and over-population, threaten many of the world's oldest forests and have led to global deforestation. More than 80 percent of the Earth's natural forests already have been destroyed according to the World Resources Institute and, according to the World Wildlife Fund, "half the world's original forest cover has been lost over the past 50 years."

Why is the purchase of eco-friendly wood products important?

We all have a vested interest in the fate of the world's forests. Healthy forest ecosystems regulate everything from the water cycle to the cleanliness of the air in our lungs. As a global economy, wood products from forests all over the world permeate so many aspects of our everyday. Although the purchase of wood products is unavoidable we can take steps to ensure that our purchases don't contribute to deforestation.

Moving towards sustainability starts with ethical consumerism and it begins with purchasing wood products from businesses committed to the well-being of the ecosystems from which their wood products are sourced. Ensuring that you're purchasing from a sustainable wood provider begins by being a conscious consumer, taking the time to ask questions, and doing your homework.

Look for the FSC seal of approval

The Forestry Stewardship Council, also known as the FSC, is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world's forests. The FSC sets in place a set of principals, practices and standards that a merchant must adhere to in order for their wood products to be FSC certified and in order for their products to carry the FSC seal-of-approval.

Purchasing FSC certified wood products help to promote environmentally favorable, socially beneficial, and economically responsible management of the world's forests. According to the FSC, "certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value."

Learn about the area from which your wood comes

Teak, for instance, is a high demand wood product and can be found throughout the world. Originally sourced from the Burmese rainforests, teak can now be purchased from sustainable teak wood plantations throughout South and Central America. The cause for the shift away from Burmese teak was due to the exploitation, deforestation, and destruction of entire ecosystems in Burma and because of the illegal felling of teak trees in the surrounding countries.

Also, most of the teak from Burma is rare old-growth teak and purchasing wood from this area is leading to the disappearance of this rare teak. In contrast, teak responsibly grown on sustainable teak wood plantations limits the ecological footprint. Knowing where your wood comes from can either mean the extinction of a rare type of tree or the purchase of wood from trees that can easily grown again, in the same place and without detriment to the environment.

Almost everything we do has an impact on the planet and it is up to us as individuals and consumers to choose whether or not that impact will be a positive one. Lets face it, being socially responsible and purchasing eco-friendly wood products is about more than mere wood, it's about improving our own quality of life and improving the lives of inhabitants across this great and into the future.

Vanessa Po supports sustainable forestry by purchasing only FSC certified wood products.

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