Lumber importers who deal in exotic hardwoods have often been unfairly painted with a broad brush by environmentalists. They portray us as uncaring ogres who are all too willing to strip the rainforests bare in selfish pursuit of profits. This caricature of our entire industry is far from the truth. In this two-part article series, we will attempt to explain how clearcutting would undermine our business, while responsible logging practices actually help protect the rainforest for the long term. We believe that, due to the rampant misinformation out there, these efforts at clearing our industry’s name are necessary to set the record straight.
While it is true that exotic lumber species such as Ipe, Teak, and Mahogany are grown in parts of the world with delicate rainforest ecosystems that are crucial to the health of our planet, banning the lumber trade in these regions actually does more harm than good. In fact, exotic hardwood lumber sales bans accelerate deforestation. Though this negative result may seem surprising at first, it makes perfect sense why it would be the case.
Much of the rainforest land in question is privately owned by local landowners who consider the trees on their properties to be a valuable natural resource. If the lumber trade is banned, there is no incentive for these land owners to keep growing these exotic hardwood trees on their land. So, they end up removing the trees from their property and finding other ways to use the land. They don’t do this because they’re heartless monsters. They do it because they need to make a living off of their land. The result of these bans, therefore, often ends up being the exact opposite of what environmentalists are hoping to accomplish. Instead of preserving the rainforests, banning regulated and responsible logging can devastate them.
So, if banning the lumber trade isn’t the answer, what is? As with many environmentally impacting industries around the world, regulation is a far superior solution than prohibition for achieving lasting results. Regulation can and does take place at each level of government from the international to the local levels. Lumber dealers and consumers, therefore, must take responsibility to only use and purchase sustainably harvested wood.
When you stop and think about it, making sure the rainforests are preserved for future generations is really in the best interests of those in the lumber industry. We understand that irresponsible clearcutting will harm both our reputations and our future supply. That, along with our own concern for the environment, gives reputable dealers in our industry a strong incentive to carefully follow government logging regulations when it comes to which lumber mills we choose to deal with in rainforest regions.
If you’ve previously been influenced by negative myths about the exotic hardwood lumber industry spread by inaccurate reports from environmental activist groups, we hope that hearing the other side of the story will help you gain a more realistic perspective. In the second installment of this two-part series, we’ll take an even more in-depth look at the complexities involved in this commonly misunderstood topic.
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J. Gibson McIlvain Company
The McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import & domestic lumber industry since 1798. Headquartered just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods. As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for high profile construction projects worldwide. Call (800) 638-9100 to speak with a J. Gibson McIlvain representative.