More customers for high-quality Spanish Cedar could help create a stronger market for it, generating greater demand and leading to lower prices. In the meantime, though, there are difficulties involved in importing Spanish Cedar. Lower availability and rising prices combine with quality concerns, forcing many former Spanish Cedar customers to seek out alternative species.
We get it; we do. But we want you to understand the ins and outs of this complex issue so you can understand when the same thing is happening to other species — and make intentional choices about your lumber purchases.
What Happened to the Supply of Spanish Cedar?
The South and Central American forests from which Spanish Cedar originates are dominated by other species, such as Mahogany and Ipe. Because of Spanish Cedar’s lack of dominance, the species isn’t sourced particularly by any mills; instead, it’s essentially a by-product of other species.
Because Spanish Cedar is now listed on the infamous CITES Appendix II, the species is more highly regulated. While the regulations are intended to keep it from becoming an endangered species, they’re resulting in less Spanish Cedar being harvested than what’s allowed.
Because of the headaches and relative lack of financial benefits to sourcing Spanish Cedar legally, many saw mills are no longer sourcing it. We can’t blame them; after all, they’re in the business of making money, not incessantly trying to decipher governmental red tape. They simply can’t afford to keep inventory for years after its been cut, awaiting permission to sell it.
What Happens to Already Harvested Spanish Cedar?
In more than one instance, we’ve seen how the regulations have backfired, decreasing the demand that’s necessary to keep the Spanish Cedar market alive and well. We had placed a large order for numerous containers of Spanish Cedar. Over a year later, the quantity we’d requested was ready to ship. Nine months later, they were still unable to attain the proper CITES paperwork, so they sold the lumber locally and cancelled our order. Most mills are unable to wait as long as that one did, but even long-standing, stable companies cannot afford to operate at a loss forever. And we can’t expect them to.
What Will Happen to Spanish Cedar, in the Future?
Of course, we don’t have a crystal ball. But as fewer mills cut Spanish Cedar, it stands to reason that the species will continue to thrive while its availability (to us) will continue to wane. It may be available in smaller quantities, though, and plantations may provide viable options for the future.
Is Plantation Spanish Cedar an option for you? How can you encourage the Spanish Cedar market for the future? We’ll look at those questions and more in Part 4.
Continue reading with Part 4.