Read also about
the consequences of 'Raubbau'
The tree species already indicates if a wooden product is likely to come from destructive logging or unsustainable sources - or not.
Please beware of the following timber species:
Abachi, Afrormosia, Afzelia, AnigrÃ©, Balau / Yellow Balau, Bilinga, Bongossi, Bubinga, Eukalyptus, FramirÃ©, Gabun (OkoumÃ©), Hevea, Iroko, Kambala, Khaya, Koto, Lauan, Limba, Mahagoni, MakorÃ©, Meranti, Merbau, Niangon, Nyatoh, Padouk, Palisander, Ramin, Sapelli, Sipo, Teak, Wawa, Wenge
Timber from nordic forests (Canada, Russia):
Hemlock, Red Cedar, Redwood, Nordic spruce and pine species. Beware of terms like 'Hardwood', 'Redwood', 'Exotic wood' which are frequently used to conceal timber from destructive logging: Raubbau.
Even timber from the most suspicious sources gets on the European market. In countries where few or no control is enforced even National Parks or protected tree species are exploited. Also, the actual harvest is not â€“ or not sufficiently â€“ controlled and considered for tax assessments.
Illegal timber harvest causes a dumping of timber prices and thus also harms the forestry and timber producers in the European member states.
Certification and Labels
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is the best known certificate and the one that is most frequently accepted by environmental organizations. Ecological, social and economic organisations are involved in this wordwide initiative. FSC controls timber companies which may use the FSC label to promote their products if positively assessed. FSC criteria are still being developed and therefore there are also controversial matters e.g. the certification of plantations. Also, the insufficient involvement or co-determination of population groups (particularly of indigenous peoples) which are affected by forestry or plantation activities and lack of transparency are criticised. Hence we cannot thoroughly recommend the FSC label, although, amongst international certificates, it comes closest to our criteria.
The FSC label is not an Eco-label! It does not generally prohibit pesticides and also plantations that are harmful to the environment can be certified. However, the FSC label marks products which originate from â€œrelatively sustainableâ€ forestry. Timber products with the FSC label are definitely better than conventional timber from destructive logging practices or 'Raubbau'.
Products with the the German Naturland label we can recommend because they are from semi-natural silviculture. So far, Naturland only certifies in Germany, which excludes some well-known problems typical for less developed countries (e.g. corruption, lack of involvement of civil society).
Beware of these certificates!
The mere certification of a timber product is not sufficient! It depends on the character of the certificate. There are many certificates which we disapprove of because their criteria do not include issues like co-determination of the local, often indigenous population or of environmental organisations or are simply ignored in practice or simply because existing standards are not met.
Frequently one can find garden furniture labelled â€˜from licensed forestryâ€™ or with the claim that the local forestry authority guaranteed â€˜ecologically reasonable use and reforestationâ€™. These certificates are not at all accepted internationally or by environmental organisations, nor based on responsible awarding criteria, institutions or control mechnisms. These labels are just to reassure the customer and to promote sales!
Labels, we consider not appropriate
The following certification systems either have weak or no criteria concerning social and ecological sustainability or the certified companies have demonstrably not met them:
CSA (Canadian Standard Association)
MTCC (Malaysian Timber Certification Council)
PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes)
SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative)
Plantations are not Forests!
The label â€˜plantation timberâ€™ serves to make the customer believe that no (tropical) forest was cut for the timber. While this sounds good at the first moment, it turns out to be bluff: where now plantations grow, there used to be (virgin) forests with great biodiversity. Plantations, however, usually consist of one tree species only, frequently a foreign one, and are the habitat for only a few animal and plant species, let alone humans. Fertilisers and pesticides are applied for maximum growth. Due to the high level of mechanisation, plantations provide only few jobs per area managed and thus are source of income for only a few people. These plantations are managed like agricultural areas and are mainly exported. Only a few, usually big foreign timber companies and investors, benefit from the plantations.
The most common plantation timber species are teak, hevea (rubber tree) and eucalyptus.
Plantations only make sense and are only ecologically justifiable when they are small-sized, consist of preferably native tree species, are not treated with pesticides and fertilisers and reasonably support the local population.
The Bavarian citizen however usually accepts spruce plantations as forest.