Nationalist & Leinster Times - 2nd May 2007
Rathvilly timber helping
to save the forests
IN the few minutes it takes you to read this
page, some 64 acres of virgin tropical hardwood forest will have
been lost forever.
One of our local people taking pride that
all wood he provides is environmentally justified and traceable,
not only down to the actual tree but to the very plank as well,
is William Bunbury, whose enterprise, Lisnavagh Timber Project of
Rathvilly provides such information to specialised carpenters all
over Ireland who, in the main, pass on this certification to their
By contrast, illegal or irresponsible logging,
land clearance for agriculture and development, and fires are destroying
tropical hardwood ecosystems at an alarming rate, according to the
World Wildlife Fund.
A great portion of that felled hardwood,
much of it untraceable to source, is likely to have found its way
into the patio furniture, decking or flat-pack cupboarding in Irish,
Continental and American stores and homes.
It has been estimated that between 25% and
50% of wood imported into Ireland annually is untraceable to source
although reliable statistics are almost impossible to come
Lisnavagh Timber Project, on the other hand,
can track and answer for every single piece of hardwood it sells.
Take, for example, log number 030012.3.
Its accompanying traceability report sent
with the delivery shows that it is of English Oak, indigenous to
Ireland, from a tree which stood at Brickfield Plinth, Lisnavagh,
County Carlow and felled on or about June 12, 2003. This oak (and
theres a photograph of it), which had stood for more than
200 years, was killed by an unprecedented arson attack on a nearby
straw stack in September 2002.
It was left for another year to see if there
was any chance of survival, which proved not to be the case. The
same detail is recorded for every single log supplied and care is
taken to ensure that felling is more than matched by groves of saplings
This cannot be said of the mountains of hardwood
logs streaming towards Chinese factories where they are converted
into furniture and floorboards, according to an article by Peter
S Goodman and Peter Finn of the Washington Post Foreign Service
published on April 1.
The writers claim that these wares are shipped
from China to major retailers in Europe and the United States where
shoppers have little idea of the environmental costs of chopping
down the trees.
The same is happening in the Congo where
Greenpeace reports that corporations are offering gifts worth the
equivalent of €85 to local people for permission to cut down
forests worth hundreds of thousands of Euro.
The organisation warns that the Congo risks
losing more than 40% of its forests in this way, with future deforestation
releasing up to 34.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050.
While some of the major store chains do impose
strict limits on the wood accepted, specifying adequate levels of
replacement-planting and traceability details, it is too expensive
to monitor on site that these rules are followed and in most
cases, they aren't.
Large scale loggers continue to operate with
impunity, according to an International Monetary Fund-World Bank
report issued in Singapore recently.
The Chinese have clamped down on logging
inside the country itself, but its huge appetite for hardwood now
relies on unmonitored imports from Russia, Malaysia and Papua New
Guinea, among others in the region and much of that timber
is thought to be illegal. This is denied by China but many conservation
groups dispute this.
According to the World Bank, between 70%
and 80% of all logging in Indonesia is illegal; in Bolivia, 80%
and in Cambodia it is 90%. So what can we do?
Demand a certificate of traceability
for every piece of hardwood timber or hardwood product you buy,
William recommends. If the vendor can't provide it and its
existence is unlikely, make a fuss, and let the salesman know the
reason. The absolute ideal would be to walk away from the sale.
Write to the stores Consumer
Affairs Manager too. Large organisations are very sensitive to this
kind of pressure"
A good overview on the effect of illegal
logging can be found on the Forest section of the World Wildlife
Fund at www.panda.org For more details of the Lisnavagh Timber Project
check its website at www.irishwoods.com, call 059-9161784 or email
The Timber Project is at Lisnavagh,
Rathvilly a cabres throw from Baltinglass.