Why We Must Make A Stand In Defence Of Our Forests

Virtually everyone in the developed world knows about the fate of our endangered species, so the mention of Bluefin tuna, whose numbers have reduced by 82% in the Western Atlantic in the last forty years, or the mighty Javan rhinoceros, of which there are only 35 left on the planet, according to the World Wildlife Fund, is enough to make an environmentalist cry. Perhaps you will have heard of the fate of the snow leopard of Central Asia, which has dwindled, due to human encroachment on its territories for logging and agriculture, to between 4,000 and 6,500 remaining in existence.

If a Tree Had a Face, We Would Never Destroy It

Yet how many of us are aware of the demise of some of the planet’s most endangered trees? Do any of us rattle collecting tins for the Huon pine? This tree is actually the oldest living species on the earth. One stands in Tasmania, where it was seeded over 3000 years ago. Yet the species is endangered to the point where it is conserved and only felled by quota issued by the Tasmanian authorities. This incredible tree joins the range of plant-life endangered in Africa’s historically ravaged habitats, used up today to supply the food, firewood and construction needs of impoverished local inhabitants. No. Our ridiculous double standards allow us to stand by and watch our planet stripped of wood to fill our homes with hardwood beams, hardwood furniture, hardwood opulence.

Recycle, Re-use, Reduce.

There are 5,000 endangered species of tree in the world, but a number of them have been identified by furniture makers in the UK as being of particular importance, because they have traditionally been used in the developed world for home-building, and for making our own living furniture. The list of trees which have been identified in the Dorling Kindersley publication Woodwork – The Complete Step by Step Manual (2010) includes Sequoia, Lignum Vitae, Mahogany, Sapele, Iroko and Wenge. It is incredible how close the match is between the most endangered tree and animal species – they are all in countries where the average income is so low that our scruples and sensibilities about habitat and the environment would be ridiculous. The editor of the very authoritative manual mentioned above, Colin Eden-Eadon, advises that recycled wood is a possible way to reduce the loss of these great trees. Perhaps we could make oak living furniture for our homes, by utilising reclaimed oak floorboards from our all-too quickly demolished dwellings to construct strong, lasting furniture for our living rooms, without endangering the fragile habitats of Africa, Central America and Asia.

R. Draper is a guest blogger and keen recycler.  Draper took inspiration for this post after shopping for a high quality piece of Oak living furniture online at National Furniture with the aim of reducing by investing in a higher quality piece of furniture in the first place.

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