Our main goal at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber has never been to find the least expensive lumber or offer the lowest prices in the industry; instead, we focus on providing our discriminating customers with quality, sustainably and responsibly harvested lumber and lumber products. If we’re going to be accused of anything remotely problematic, we’d happily own up to the suggestion that we’re too exacting, too cautious, too fastidious about the lumber we allow to enter and be purchased from our yards.
As a result of that kind of unflinching commitment to our customers and our hard-earned reputation for excellence, there are many grades and species of lumber which we refuse to carry. Our high standards have typically led to our resisting plantation-grown lumber, but we’re making an exception for plantation-grown Fijian Mahogany.
Problems with Old Growth “Genuine Mahogany” and Alternatives
As Genuine (Honduran) Mahogany has become increasingly expensive and challenging to obtain, we’ve been exploring reasonable alternative species to suggest to our customers. Mahogany’s listing on CITES as a protected species has prompted rumors of its lack of sustainability, causing decreased demand and production that have caused unnecessary shortages.
In the wake of those complicated issues, we’ve endeavored to educate our Mahogany customers about African species that can stand in for Mahogany and to supply our customers with the highest quality Sapele, Utile, and African Mahogany available. Even at their finest, though, these species are more difficult to work than Genuine Mahogany; they’re also harder, heavier, and denser than the South American species. Spanish Cedar has emerged as a popular alternative, but its market has come into question, too.
An Alternative to the Usual Alternatives: Hope Now and for the Future
As those alternative species have decreased in popularity and availability, a new contender for replacing Genuine Mahogany is actually Genuine Mahogany. Only the new option isn’t the old-growth Mahogany from South America but plantation-grown Mahogany from the Fiji Islands.
Unlike typical plantation-grown species, the Genuine Mahogany we’re seeing come out of Fiji boasts consistent color and density similar to old-growth Mahogany. While typical plantation-grown trees exhibit tell-tale defects such as pin knots caused by different soil composition and an unnatural growing environment that fails to include a variety of flora and fauna. By contrast, though, Fijian Mahogany has been growing since World War II.
The more than 6 decades of plantation growth, along with the aggressive natural replanting spread of the original stock, have led to a situation unique among plantations: These trees are healthy and sustainably managed. The low-impact forestry practices, including strategic thinning of stock, produce a high-quality primary stock. What’s more, this unusually healthy plantation forest has become a self-sustaining ecosystem of its own rite.
As long as proper management continues, we expect the forest to provide a steady supply of high-quality Genuine Mahogany for years to come. Instead of a dwindling and decreasingly healthy stock, we expect an even better harvest in another 6 decades than we’re seeing today.
Read More on the McIlvain Blog:
- Yesterday’s Philippine Mahogany is Today’s Meranti
- Want Better Quality Lumber? Reconsider Your Sizes
- Wood Color Changes Explained
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) 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 notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling toll free (800) 638-9100.
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