You’re probably thinking we’re talking political activism, fighting against parking lots or the money-hungry lumber industry. Perhaps it’s about raising awareness about yet another endangered species — of animals, of trees, of anything that lives in the tropical rainforst. In fact, it’s the often villainized lumber industry that offers timber its most sustainable value. Forestry is the friend, not the foe. The lumber industry is the friend of forests and — by extension — the ecosystem they support. The friend of the locals who need jobs and the economies that need land to have value so they can survive.
After all, the forestry and lumber industries have only one product; it’s in their vested interest to protect the forests that produce the wood they need. The best way, then, to protect tropical rainforests is to promote those whose industry gives value to the rain forests and to buy tropical lumber.
The Cold, Hard Truth
It would be nice if forests could exist just to look pretty and provide habitat for animals and if money were no object. But the truth of the matter is that money is an object, and it’s often the main object of concern. At the end of the day, people need to feed their families, and they do it by earning an income. Landowners need to derive profit from their land, or they’ll have no incentive for their investments, and their land won’t provide the much-needed stimulus for already-struggling economies.
The truth is that if rain forests aren’t turning a profit — and doing so in a sustainable way — the rain forests will be cut down. Deforestation has occurred in decades past due to clear cutting and poor forestry management. Illegal logging practices continue to contribute to the problem. However, today, when deforestation occurs, it’s almost always a result of forestry’s inability to make money with the land.
The Effects of Regulation
While increased regulation has positively affected forests in many ways, such as by reducing clear cutting and other irresponsible practices, increased regulation has also indirectly led to deforestation. When the market for a species such as Ipe, Teak, or Genuine Mahogany becomes greatly regulated, the legislation and accompanying paperwork requires valuable time and money — which, in turn, causes higher prices and longer lead times for customers who wish to purchase the regulated lumber. The result is a decreased demand, followed by decreased production.
Regulation by governmental and corporate entities isn’t nearly as problematic as actual logging bans. Such bans lead directly to the shutting down of sawmills and the forest’s losing its value for landowners.
The Return of Value
When land hosting a rain forest and providing valuable timber loses its value to the landowner, the only option is to repurpose the land in order to regain the land’s income potential. When logging is no longer allowed, the timber becomes worthless and is burned in favor of less sustainable solutions, such as cattle grazing.
According to a well-documented study of the land along the Brazilian Amazon, from 2000-2005, cattle ranching accounted for 65-70% of deforestation, while agriculture accounted for an additional 25-30%. By contrast, the logging industry accounted for a mere 2-3% of deforestation.
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 (800) 638-9100.