Most people are aware that rainforests are treasure troves of biological diversity and provide vital environmental services like oxygen production, carbon sequestration, and climate regulation.
And people are equally aware that rainforests are in peril: illegal logging and deforestation are urgent problems throughout the world. Per World Wildlife Fund, as one of the world's largest producers and consumers of forest products, the United States plays a key role in deterring illegal logging and associated trade. A 2010 Chatham House study estimated that illegal wood and paper imports into the U.S. could represent almost 4% of all U.S. wood and paper imports, valued at $4 billion. If rates of forest loss were to continue unabated, the world’s rainforests could be wiped out by the end of this century.
Given these facts, we should all be careful in choosing hardwood timber. But as important as it is to avoid hardwood whose origins are questionable, it is equally important to buy wood from existing models of environmentally and responsible forestry in the South America – for if these models succeed, others will follow their lead. This is why leading environmental organizations like the World Wildlife Fund recommend using hardwood provided that it comes from forests that are certified to the stringent standards of the Forest Stewardship Council®.
“People wonder how you can save the rainforest by logging it. For decades, rainforests have been cleared for farming, cattle ranching, and other economic reasons. But in more and more places, forests are being preserved because, through responsible timber harvesting and other sustainable uses of forest resources, they have become more valuable to local people standing than converted to other uses.”
– Richard Donovan
Chief of Forestry, Rainforest Alliance