Ethical Wood Products

This month’s article is by Alan from Oliver Gibbs Carpentry & Joinery in Shrewsbury

When buying a wood product or service, most people consider quality and value for money but not whether their choice will fuel the illegal timber trade.
The United Nations declared 2011 to be the ‘International Year of Forests’ and presented some eye-opening figures. 31% of the world’s land is made up of forest. Our forests contain 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.  Over 300 million people live in forests and the livelihoods of 1.6 billion of the poorest people depend on forests.

The problem of illegal timber

The illegal trade in timber therefore has a huge ecological and social impact.  Research from Chatham House in 2006 showed that the trade causes serious environmental damage; it promotes corruption, funds armed conflict, and retards sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world.
In 2008, the WWF published a study into the extent of illegal logging. It argued that the existing European Union (EU) and British licensing scheme was ineffective in stopping the trade in illegal wood, and showed that about 90 percent of illegal timber will still enter the EU markets.

Preventing illegal trade

What can you do to help stop the problem? One way is to only buy wood and paper products from responsibly managed forests.  To do this, simply look out for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) tree logo on wood related products or look for services that use them. The FSC guarantees that trees are harvested legally; they ensure that trees are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally, and that local labour is used in logging.
By using ethical wood products and services, you can ensure great products for your home that didn’t cost someone theirs.
To find FSC certified wood products and suppliers, visit their website at

Images  courtesy of

© Living Ethically / Oliver Gibbs Carpentry May 2011