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What will be the response of the lumber industry to the issue of endangered tree species?

One would assume that woodworking and lumber companies would be more than helpful with the reforestation of endangered tree species

But are they really as reliable and as green as we think?

October, 2019

I am not expecting much from them. I think they bear the greatest share of responsibility for this issue and I have dealt with many of them over the years. I do think there are some that will support us and do the right thing, but they will be in the minority. I understand that some will come on board later and want to see us make progress first. Of course, that progress is harder without support.

Looking at the website of a large company that has a specialty division that deals in exotic timber, and is run by someone, let’s call him Brian, who has spent 48 years buying tropical woods, we would think their support would be great. Here is their written policy:

“Our commitment to the environment
We consider protecting the environment a critical issue of our time. We take responsible forest management seriously and are committed to sourcing and offering products in accordance with the various standards of the Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).”

From the parent Lumber company:

“In everything we do, we are driven to meet the specific needs of our clients with better prices, tailored handling logistics, more transparency and efficiency, plus the most comprehensive and effective services in the industry. No matter where you are in the world, you can count on us, thanks to our global network of offices. For the highest environmental industry standards, and on-time delivery.”

Here is part of the response from the person running that division responding to my email asking if they will support Grown Forward. I copied and pasted my exact words and his exact words, left his spelling and grammar as sent. His words in brown, mine in green, because, well…

I believe that CITES is doing a good job of monitoring those species in tropical countries like Dalbergia latifolia, in fact they will probably de-list the specie and put it back on with CITES requirement.

Planting natural growth tropical or endangered species -well the results of that would not be known for some 40-100 years from now, so a crap shoot in my opinion.
There are too many people in the world period and their thirst for new, old, exciting woods continues and while CITES if they cannot control exportation and logging permits for export then the illegal timber trade will look after itself with now really only a few doing it. Some very large seizures took place in last few years in China and I think the overall timber trade is getting better in policing the corruption.

My response to him regarding the delisting of Dalbergia Latifolia:

thank you for your reply. I think it was honest, but I also think you are really going to be on the wrong side of history on this.
I have been in too many jungles and 3rd world countries to believe that enforcement is working, or that CITES is the answer. The endangered species list is getting bigger, not smaller. But if that attitude helps you sleep at night, I understand. I have dug too deep to believe it myself and am not soothed by lies.
You are absolutely dreaming if you think Dalbergia is coming off CITES II, will not happen.
As for the “it will take too long to get results” answer, wow, let’s just do nothing. Much better than trying.
I expected answers like yours, click and listen, your response is standard. No one else would put it in writing, but I appreciate that you did.

https://grownforward.com/podcast/episode-4/
https://grownforward.com/podcast/episode-5/
https://grownforward.com/podcast/episode-6/

You got yours, you made a lot of money, why should you care? Vini, Vidi, Vici.
But as long as that is the common response, we leave behind a world in worse shape than we found it.

I can’t do that, but it is nice to know where you and (company name blocked for now) stand on the subject.

His response in 2 emails, from his phone later that night:

Allergic Latifa is planned to delisted next meetings so you don’t know what your talking about as well Alberta Sissoo.

Your a lefty, I am righty let’s leave it that, I wish well in dream and plan.

Here is my response to his response. I cut and pasted the part about India from an online article and their attempt to get the one species of dalbergia delisted.

have I touched a nerve?
Dalbergia Latifolia will not get delisted, it is listed as vulnerable in India
NOT A CHANCE, but let’s wait and see.
And the plantations of it in Asia are legal anyways under CITES, it will not get delisted, so you don’t know what you are talking about there

Dalbergia sissoo should never have been listed, it grows like a weed and was listed just because it is a dalbergia, it is a pretty low rated rosewood, not much value, no one is lining up to buy it. That is the species India is proposing to get delisted.

Has India failed to impress CITES to lift the curbs on rosewood trade? Devastated by the ban artisans and exporters allege India failed to put up a strong case at the CoP 18 in Geneva.

the fact that it was listed in the first place should give you an indication how hard it will be to take it off,
but if that is what you are going to hang your hat on to defend your position, good luck

I think what you are telling me is that your company only lists their associations with FSC, etc for marketing, you don’t really believe in any of that “environmental crap”. You will spend $100 on telling people about your sustainability before you will actually spend a dollar on action.
why not just people the truth, you don’t care. At least be honest about it. Honesty worked for Don Cherry, you should try it.

His emails were also sent to 5 other employees of the company, including a vice president. No response from them so far. This is what people need to see and understand. If you walk into any lumber company that sells exotic woods, they will tell you they are sustainable and support proper forestry practices, etc. Ask them to show you, make them prove it, ask them for GPS locations of trees they are planting. If they say they rely on their suppliers, they are lying. After 35 years in this industry, the word reliable and trustworthy is not used very often when describing suppliers from Africa and Latin America. But they will trust them to do proper forestry? And if everyone is sustainable, WHY IS THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST GROWING?

The truth is they do not care. They only care about profit, they do not think they should have to pay anything to plant trees that they are responsible for taking out. But they want you to think they do. They will do anything to help, unless it involves them spending any money. They will spend money marketing themselves as sustainable, but not actually any on doing anything. What this person put in writing others have said to me. I am against logging bans of these species if we can do it sustainably and the local owners are well compensated and their forest protected. And if we can save the genetic s trains and find ways to grow them in forest plantations for future generations. But if the companies that reap the profits refuse to change their ways, then we must hold them to account.

Am I afraid to alienate the lumber industry? Hell no! First of all, I am not doing this to be their friend, I don’t care what they think. They should help, and there are ways that they can help and benefit by securing their own long term supply. And the smart ones will do that. And I am not afraid to alienate an industry that refuses to live up to their responsibilities. I will let you know about the ones that help and deserve your support. And if they do something else not related to my project, I will help them out and let you know also. And I will give the ones that don’t want to help an opportunity to change their ways. But a time will come when you should know about what companies are fake and telling you lies.

For those who are reading this and want to think, that is just one response, I am sure companies are not like that, here is the test. Look at 10 or 20 exotic lumber company websites, try to find one that says they don’t care about the environment. Now look for the projects they support, what they actually do. Try to find trees they are planting, how old they are, where they are located. See if they have real proof that they are responsible for planting trees. Because if they had this proof, they would proudly display it on their site. And they sell a lot and plant a little, is that sustainable? Are they planting relevant species? Are they planting to ensure those trees survive and actually replace the ones they harvest?

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