The Lumber Industry That’s Good for Rainforests, Part 1

chainsawingWhile it is true that the lumber industry is what gives wood value and promotes proper protection of trees and forests, it is also true that not all lumber practices are equally beneficial to rainforests and the species that comprise them. While logging bans are almost always counterproductive for the forests, most governmental intervention works to promote the continued health of the forests — and the logging industry.

For an importer of record, the changing details about who is responsible for what can be as difficult to navigate as a narrow trail in the dark. As a customer, you also should understand the basic issues at hand, as they do relate to your business and level of responsibility, as well.

Today’s Sustainable Practices

The lumber industry is generally more concerned about sustainability than anyone else — after all, without a renewable resource, we’d eventually stop being able to continue in our line of work. As a result, we constantly research potential concerns, and when we notice a problem, we recommend alternative sources and species.

clawRegardless of how fastidious we are about evaluating the health of forests and the sustainable practices of those from which we source our lumber, governmental departments heavily regulate how forests are managed. Each country has its own policies, and some are stricter than others.

Many countries, particularly in South America, actually own the land that is logged and basically lease it to various lumber companies whose managed forestry plans meet strict regulations in what they call “land concessions.” As a result of this arrangement, documentation regarding lumber in these countries actually begins before a tree is ever cut down!

Even with that kind of tight regulation, the poor management practices of past generations continues to mean that some species still get over harvested. Enter: CITES regulations.

CITES Regulations

log millThe Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES, is a global entity that identifies and regulates trade regarding endangered species. Anyone who has heard about CITES has likely heard about their three appendices that list the flora and fauna they’ve deemed to be threatened and which they regulate in varying degrees.

Appendix I lists species that are basically black-listed: These plants are so close to becoming extinct that very little, if any, trade is legally possible. The little trade permitted is for scientific purposes only; commercial trade is basically prohibited.

Appendix II is basically a “watch list” for species that could get bumped to Appendix 1, if precautions aren’t taken. Market demand and availability are kept in check, and a careful watch on trade helps make sure these species don’t become endangered.

Appendix III lists species of more localized concern, noting those protected in specific countries, which have requested help from CITES in regulating trade.

Continue reading with Part 2.

picking lumberJ. 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 ( 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.

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