China and Trees

timber, china, mother jones, ikea


China’s timber exports, about 40 percent of which goes to the United States, exceed $17 billion. But while some furniture and building-supply stores have agreed in theory to buy only wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably and legally harvested, implementation is another story.

Ikea: The chain buys a quarter of its furniture stock from China, which imports wood from Russia. A recent Washington Post investigation found that even though about half the wood from Russia is illegally harvested, Ikea employs only two foresters in China and three in Russia to track the origins of its wood. A company official acknowledged that the expense of guaranteeing its wood’s legality is prohibitive. Ikea has a goal that by 2009, at least 30 percent of its wood will be certified. Currently, only 4 percent of the wood used in its Chinese factories passes that test.

Home Depot: Only 5 percent of its wood products are made from certified timber.

Armstrong Floor Products: Sells endangered Indonesian merbau, and declines to join the certification plan.

The Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Mother Jones magazine has a great article on China and what’s happening over there. One of the things I didn’t realize was the effect on trees that China is having as a result of the country being the ‘manufacturer to the World.’

Since they’ve already harvested as much timber within China they now have to get it elsewhere and that is involving a lot of intentional arson and other things to get timber in whether it harms the environment or not. There’s a chart that shows what three of the largest companies Americans are familiar with and probably buy wood products from: Ikea, Home Depot and Armstrong – and shows how much wood is sustainably harvested.