As much as we love the rich reddish brown color of Ipe and the golden beauty of Teak, the true value of tropical hardwood decking lumber is found in a different kind of color consideration: it’s green. As a society that increasingly understands and appreciates both diversity and environmentally responsible practices like using sustainable, renewable natural resources, it seems as if we shouldn’t even have to argue for the benefits of real wood decking, in contrast with manufactured composite decking materials. But if we must, we will argue for this fact: naturally occurring lumber is much more truly “green” than any manufactured products advertised as such.
Lumber Is a Renewable Resource
No matter how environmentally friendly a manufacturing process may be, it can’t compare to the renewable nature of natural lumber. While the lumber industry hasn’t always taken full advantage of this characteristic, leading at times to mass clear-cutting and deforestation, that issue is generally one for the history books. For the past 100 years or so, forestry management practices have involved generous replanting ratios. Canada stands head-and-shoulders above other nations in its practice of planting 20 new trees for every single tree harvested. Not only do many within today’s lumber industry care about their environment in which they work, but they also realize that they’re dependent on a continued supply of lumber in order for the preservation of their livelihood.
Commercial Value Benefits Forest Health
While ideally, everyone would see the value of forest health on global ecology and preserve natural resources simply for the sake of their intrinsic value, reality tells us otherwise. The Yasuni-ITT Initiative, although relating to oil drilling, famously proved this disturbing point. When land no longer holds commercial value for its lumber, landowners are seeking alternative industries. For this reason, cattle ranching and agriculture — rather than logging — are the primary industries leading to mass clear cutting, especially throughout South America and Africa.
Biosequestration Benefits Everyone
One of the main benefits of forests — and, by extension, the lumber industry — is tied to the Carbon and Oxygen Cycle. We all know that a small Carbon footprint is a good thing, so we can imagine the benefit on our global ecology that comes with an increased ability to sequester (or remove) Carbon from the atmosphere. Whether or not you see the connection between atmospheric Carbon and Global Warming, we can all appreciate the benefits of keeping as much Carbon out of the atmosphere as possible.
With fewer greenhouse gases emerging, the entire ecosystem benefits. Trees naturally capture or “sequester” Carbon; this process, referred to as “biosequestration,” continues even after a tree is cut down and milled into lumber. In fact, whether the tree dies and rots away naturally or finds use in a deck or boat or as the trim in your house, it still provides that service. When it eventually rots, it takes the Carbon that it has sequestered with it.
Continue reading with Part 2.
Further Explore the Lumber Industry
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.