Yasuni, Tropical Lumber, and You

forestNearly two years ago, Rafael Correa, the President of Equador, announced that oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park would commence, despite the historical Yasuni-ITT initiative of 2006. While Correa had agreed to prohibit drilling in the incredibly biodiverse park (which is also home to two tribes that have little-to-no contact with other humans) if enough money were raised, the amount pledged only totaled 10% of the $3.6 billion required. According to Correa, the already impoverished nation simply cannot afford to go without the revenue promised by the oil. In 2014, nearly half of the signatures on a petition to stop the drilling were determined to be invalid, sparking protests across Ecuador.

Whether the Initiative’s failure did, in fact, “deal a body blow to conservation efforts and unleash a tide of oil development,” as a reporter from National Geographic predicted, it has certainly added fuel to the flames of international controversy regarding natural resources and human responsibility.

lumber jackThe Significance of Sustainability

Even if the Yasuni-ITT Initiative had succeeded in raising the funds required by Correa, there was a problem with the so-called solution from the start: It lacked sustainability. Oil, of course, generally lacks that characteristic, which is precisely where the forestry and lumber industries are distinct.

While lumber is, of course, a natural resource, it is also sustainable. Or at least it can be. Unlike the dilemma surrounding oil and other depleting natural resources, the way to increase the value and longevity of trees in tropical rainforests is actually not to stop buying lumber. By contrast, those who do buy imported lumber are actually the ones keeping those forests alive.

The Importance of Income

log mill trucksAs the Yasuni-ITT Initiative taught us, conservation pleas can go only so far: the bottom line is still the bottom line. Unlike the dilemma this presents regarding the oil industry, it’s actually good news for lumber.

As long as a country’s forestry industry remains healthy, it contributes to the GDP, providing revenue and jobs that give them value within the economy.

However, when lumber loses its monetary value, land owners are essentially forced to clear-cut forests and disrupt the entire ecosystem in order to pursue other means of revenue.

As land owners destroy what could have become a long term resource (lumber), they pick the “fruit within reach” (opting typically for cattle ranches and palm oil plantations) and hurt their chances of longer term economic growth.

lumber sawmillThe Reality of Renewal

Because lumber, unlike oil, is entirely renewable, today’s forestry management plans help ensure that those resources will not be depleted. By combining strategies for quality and yield increase with active replanting, property owners are able to do more than retain original value — they can see it increase!

For those who truly care about the environment, the beauty of wood lies beyond its aesthetics and resides chiefly in its renewable nature and quality contribution to the global ecosystem. Because of lumber’s unique renewable nature, it can both support local economies and contribute positively to our global health.

The bottom line is this: When you buy tropical lumber, everybody wins.

J. Gibson McIlvain Company

Picking lumber at J Gibson McIlvain

Picking lumber at J Gibson McIlvain

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.

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