Tropical hardwoods and your conscience

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Hi
Just got back from Malaysia. Visiting family mostly as my wife is from Sabah, Borneo.
I would like to appeal to all you woodworkers out there to stop buying topical hardwoods unless you know and I mean _KNOW_ that they come from sustainable sources. Corruption is rife over there and day by day the forest is being destroyed. Companies that present themselves as being legitimate and concerned about sustainability are systematically corrupt. The whole economics/politics of the place is based upon this corruption too.
I'm a cabinet maker in the UK and I know what trouble it makes for me to try to buy timber that isn't tainted. Trouble is though that if we woodsmiths don't start acting responsibly and questioning where _EVERY_ single piece of timber (and that applies to ply too) comes from then there won't be anything left and many of the ecosystems that these timbers come from will not regenerate.
Close by to me in the UK there's a company that does timbers for woodturning. I've been to their storehouse and seen timber for sale that just plain shouldn't be available. They might make great little bowls to give as gifts but just think about the damage done. A small piece of timber for turning makes them a great deal of profit but each small piece comes from an illegally chopped tree. And each tree is a part of an ecosystem.
If you're bothered then think about it. Think about what you buy and the consequences. I get great pleasure out of my work. That's why I went into it. But I question daily whether my conscience is clean.
A link to the FOE good wood guide.
http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/biodiversity/resource/good_wood_guide/wood_timber_buying_guide.html
Enough already.
Apologies for the sermon.
Nicholas
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wrote:

I appreciate and share your concerns, but why is this specifically a problem for cabinet makers in the UK ? We've plenty of good hardwoods ourselves, and in the quantities that fine cabinetry consumes it there's no shortage. I have no trouble finding timber, I usually know who felled it, and I can often take you back to the very spot it was felled from. In general I just don't use tropicals - but where I do, I'm fussy over where it came from.
The timber consumption that worries me isn't at the high end, it's the low end patio furniture and mangrove-swamp charcoal. Teak furniture, sold for tuppence and thrown away after Wayne and Dwayne have broken it by the end of the summer.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Mon, Jun 14, 2004, 11:51pm (EDT+5) snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com (Andy Dingley) says: I appreciate and share your concerns, but why is this specifically a problem for cabinet makers in the UK ?
I'm not in the UK, but agree, in principle. Enforcement of any logging laws, etc., is gonna have to be the country of origin.
We've plenty of good hardwoods ourselves, <snip>
Anymore, if I buy any wood, it's from trees native to North Carolina. Well, I do make an exception for plywood, even tho I'm not sure where the plywood forest are. It's more spiritually satisfying to me to only use NC wood, and that also kills any worry about moral issues on buying illegal, over logged, or whatever, wood.
Hmm, just had a thought. The wood here isn't exotic to me, but it would be to someone in another part of the world. Maybe people in different parts of the world could swap some of their local wood with people elsewhere, for some of "their" local wood. Might be a bit expensive in large lots, but I think it'd be neat to be able to make a small chest, box, or something, with some wood from the UK, Australia, or Canada, etc., or even to just include some. Especially when you "know" the person you got it from. Shouldn't cost much for a few board feet, and I think it'd be well worth the price.
Yep, I figure I can amend my "North Carolina wood only" rule, for a deal like that.
Damn. I've got some small pieces stuck away, from my own property, that went down in a hurricaine some years back; dogwood, hickory, oak, holly, something else. But, I've had plans for it, all this time. I'll have to check what I've got, and see if I'm willing to give up any of it, or will have to get some more, for swapping. Damn. LOL
JOAT Use your brain - it's the small things that count.
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I've just moved to Brunei, Borneo and taken my first trip to the local sawmill. I've tried asking where it comes from, but you get the answer 'The forests in the north'. That is as much as they tell you. I don't know if it's all they know, but it's all you'll get. they're not a big exporter, just a small (and scary machinery) place on the bank of the river, providing to the local construction market.
I've got zip chance of finding out where my wood comes from. They don't seem to understand the concept of ecological wood cutting, so I'm intrigued as to how you find all your information. When stuff is exported, I assume it has to have documentary provenance etc, but it doesn't for local woods.
J.
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wrote:
You are in the wrong place. Brunei is sandwich in between Sabah and Sarawak, East Malaysia. You should go to Tawau, Sabah in the North. I believe Sabah Softwood have reforesting there since the early eighties. Borneo is divided into three Countries, East Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
If opportunity permit do climb Kota Kinabalu, an experience you will never forget.

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On Tue, 15 Jun 2004 12:11:24 +0800, Justin Peer

Look up the names of local sawmills and ask how many send wood to the eco countries. They'll have "legal" wood.
--
Don't forget the 7 P's:
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance
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If it were any more than a than a drop in the ocean of dunnage, charcoal, building materials, etc, I guess I'd worry.

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wrote:

If a million woodworkers change their, "Other uses are much more destructive than my piddly needs so I'm not going to feel guilty," beliefs, the market just might take notice. Also consider the word-of-mouth effect in raising awareness of the corruption and waste.
On the notion of trading wood, this happens amongst woodturners fairly regularly. I've send Oregon woods like Western Big Leaf Maple, Claro Walnut and Filbert to Pennsylvania, Hawaii and Tennessee - in return I've gotten Koa, Pheasantwood, Locust and Mulberry. The downside is that turners generally favor green wood and it's a might pricey to ship all that water. (I claim "book rate" since it's just a book in raw form.)
--
Owen Lowe and his Fly-by-Night Copper Company
Offering a shim for the Porter-Cable 557 type 2 fence design.
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Fine words. Good thoughts. Bad data. Might want to look up the cordage which makes it to the hobby market to see how little a million woodworkers get compared to the local people who build their hooches out of the wood, or cook their food, or....

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wrote:

Thanks.
Word-of-mouth would eventually affect commercial uses of the tropicals if consumers voiced concerns and didn't buy. (Realistically, I doubt much would happen on this front - people who *want* something justify their desires by citing they deserve to have it. We seem to have a society that doesn't sacrifice anything for their desires - petroleum and food come to mind.)
The topic of harvesting tropical woods is certainly a Catch-22 situation. If you instill in locals the monetary value of the trees then corruption can easily cause widespread clearcutting without any sustainability measures. If you downplay the monetary value then the locals will still likely cut the trees to make way for other uses that generate money. It's a tough situation to solve but it really does come down to the local people recognizing the ecological as well as monetary value of what's in their backyard.
--
Owen Lowe and his Fly-by-Night Copper Company
Offering a shim for the Porter-Cable 557 type 2 fence design.
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Comes down to eating versus starving, really. Tomorrow's a long way away when your belly's growling.
Fortunately, we here in the US can vote for a man this fall who will force those folks over there to stop exploiting the labor of their people, and enforce California environmental law on 'em. Just ask him....

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That must mean your fairy godmother is running for office.
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George wrote:

You mean Bush has added the invasion of Borneo to the platform while I wasn't looking? Kewl.
--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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Does he know exactly where Bornea is, let alone how the State look like? I guess he's having personal problems.
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WD wrote:

He he - I can't imagine that not knowing where it is would prevent ordering a pre-emptive strike to deal with all those Woods of Mass Destruction. Probably start the whole thing off with a schlock and awl display.
Eh? George? Personal problems? No way. When he has real personal problems, he calls for a constitutional amendment...
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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Are you sure he doesn't have personal problems? Look like he need Viraga to change his attitude?
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Just for your information, they will NEVER stave as their (Dayak) ancestor eat human and the head is their specialty!
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The _second_ to last will not starve, in that instance.
And for your information, that was a universal statement. Have some imagination - and some Maalox.
wrote:

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Owen Lowe writes:

That makes me think of the dolt I saw on TV a couple weeks ago. We were in one of our periodic "three bucks a gallon is coming" spurts, so the interviewer asked this guy, who was gassing up one of the largest SUVs made, if the costly gas would change his habits. His answer, paraphrased but close, was: We're Americans and this is how we live.
People like that make you wonder how they lived to grow up even as far as they did.
Charlie Self "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to." Dorothy Parker
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On 17 Jun 2004 00:30:38 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

Exactly, and there are many among us are like that and are very proud of it!
Nah, don't believe in gas shortage, there are millions barrels beneath Alaska's North slope and millions more off the coast of Texas and California. All we need to do is to pump it out and everyone could have more than one BIG SUVs? :-)
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