Though the lumber industry has a checkered past marred by corruption and irresponsibility, valiant efforts have been made to better conserve our natural forestry resources for the future. So what should you, whether you’re a contractor, lumber dealer, or consumer, take away from the information you’ve gleaned from this series of articles (see Parts 1 & 2)? What practical steps can you take to do your part in protecting our North American forests? The answer to this question may surprise you. One of the most environmentally friendly, responsible choices you can make is to buy quality wood from reputable dealers who only sell sustainably harvested lumber.
How Can Buying Wood Actually Help to Protect Forests?
At first glance, this answer may not seem logical. After all, if we want to protect the forests, wouldn’t we be better off not buying lumber altogether and using some sort of alternative products for our construction projects? The answer to this question is a firm no. Whether you’re an amateur woodworker or a professional builder, maintaining a healthy respect for our forests doesn’t mean you have to forgo working with wood. In fact, quite the opposite. If the market for sustainably grown wood were to disappear, our forests would likely be in far greater danger than they currently are. It all has to do with the primary economic forces of supply and demand.
Forestry Companies are Invested in Sustaining Valuable Forests
Those who work in the lumber industry have to make a living. If wood continues to be a sought-after, valuable product, it makes good business sense for them to care about protecting the environment so that the forests continue to thrive. If the bottom falls out from under their ability to make a profit, chances are greater that they’ll fall back into their old, bad habits of clear-cutting.
If everyone stops buying quality lumber in a misguided attempt to “help the environment,” the quality wood will be sold off to anyone who will buy it. Typically, the wood used for products like MDF, paper, particle board, and plywood doesn’t have to be as high in quality. Demand for only lower quality wood would have a negative impact on current well-managed forestry practices that are important for growing quality wood with desirable consistency and grain.
In addition to the threat of sustainability being sacrificed due to lower demand, there’s always a chance that forest land that’s no longer profitable could wind up being sold to non-wood related industries. This is actually the worst case scenario from an environmental standpoint. It’s under these type of unfavorable market conditions that clear-cutting could see a real comeback as the once-forested land is re-purposed into other uses.
When it comes to protecting the environment, it’s important for people to use their heads as well as their hearts. That involves thinking about the real-world impact of various governmental decisions as well as economic factors. Some policies that are implemented with the best of intentions can actually end up doing more harm than good in the long run. In our final article, we’ll wrap up these thoughts on sustainability and how you can play an important role in preserving our forests.