Originally published on Ecopreneurist.
By Jon Buck
As with any global scale problem, illegal logging is a hard issue to tackle. As with the wider issue of climate change, the everyday person, when discussing illegal logging, may be tempted to throw up their hands and exclaim “what can I do about it?”
Businesses and large corporations will confirm that they will adhere to local regulations and local laws but will inevitably be guided by maximizing shareholder return whilst working within operational requirements.
These bigger entities will often point to government as the level at which change must be affected. Governments meanwhile, will talk of the need to sustain economic growth and the importance of import and export markets. The problem, of course, is one for every single human being on the planet.
In some respects there is truth in the reactions we as individuals, companies and governments have to the question of illegal logging. The problem is enormously complex and must be seen from many sides if one if to grasp its true scale. Any solution, then, will be equally complex and multi-faceted.
What can businesses do to help?
Firstly, they must stop relying on government control to curb the problem. Taking the EU as an example there are some woeful loopholes which allow illegally logged timber into the member states. Less than 50% of the timber, by value, entering the EU is confirmed as coming from legal sources.
In light of this lack of national and international effort to stem the flow of illegally logged timber, businesses must step up and have clear and well thought out policies to how they source these raw materials. Where they get their wood and what types of timber they use must be carefully managed.
Taking the matter seriously means actually factoring in the issue of deforestation and illegal logging to the social responsibility agenda. The WWF is leading the charge by asking businesses to shift to 100% sustainable timber and wood by 2020. A healthy number of business have already signed up and we can only hope more are to follow.
What can we do as individuals?
It is here that perhaps the greatest challenge to illegal logging can be mounted. Let us not forget that, at its heart, the root cause of illegal logging is economic. The trees are only logged because there is a market for the timber. There is a market for the timber because we buy it in the form of finished products. If we all only bought products that came from a recognized and certified source then the problem would be made dramatically better.
Start then, by only buying wood and wood pulp products from a body who actively oversee a program of sustainable forest management. These schemes take account of a huge array of factors, from the local farmer who cuts down the tree, to the final end user of the product. There are four primary organizations covering over two thirds of all certified areas:
- FSC – Forest Stewardship Council
- CSA – Canadian Standards Association
- PEFC – Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes
- SFI – North American Sustainable Forest Initiative
Looking for the logos of these organizations on the products you buy, and the marketing materials of the companies you deal with, will help tackle the issue.
It is also important to understand your personal buying decisions at a more general ecological level. Using reclaimed wood and fast growing timber bamboo means that you are not only bypassing the supply of illegally logged timber, but you are helping to sustain the environments that are home to millions of different species.
It may seem an insurmountable problem but collectively we must take charge of overcoming the issues at hand, no matter how tough that might be. Education will be a vital part of this process so if you care about the issues raised in this article, start making some noise about it and get sharing on social media. What is required is nothing short of a revolution in the market, but all revolutions have to start somewhere.
About the Author: Jon Buck has been managing director at Bordercraft since 1996. Bordercraft are a family owned business and have been producing fine hardwood furniture from their workshops in the Welsh borders since 1972. All of the timbers they use are sourced from sustainable managed forests and everything they sell is made by their experienced craftsmen in the UK. You can connect with them on Facebook.
Reprinted with permission.