Ethics of woodworking exotic woods?

Robert Sanders rlsanders at
Wed Oct 18 11:45:07 EST 1995

>Kevin Courter
>US WEST Advanced Technologies    -    Boulder, Colorado

Well Kevin, we are wood cutters in a tropical rainforest and are the
target of most of the discussion. Here is part of our view. 

Timber concessions have been granted to local and foreign timber
cutters as a necessary means to development. The government obtains a
small fee of $2.00 per tree and the timber cutters get what they can.
Foreign timber operations have concesions to clear large tracts of
land, in some cases millions of acres. These companies obtain their
concessions through diplomatic activity, promises of major investment,
and direct bribary of officials. Their interest is not to clear land
for ranching or farming but to get all the wood they can, while they
can, for as low a price as possible.

The use of the wood is to make plywood, utility poles, pilings, rail
road ties, truck flooring, paper pulp and other low value products.
Volume is the name of the game. There is little or no processing
except for the companies own end market.

Promises to implement programs for ecological sustainability are
talked about, and talked about, and never implemented to any degree
that is a realistic offset to the destruction.

There is another scenario. Small indigenous wood cutters, who are
granted small concessions in the range of 25,000 acres, cut for local
and export markets. They supply major foreign interests as sub
contracted loggers, local contrctors, and regional markets. 

Our program is to directly assist these local cutters to earn more for
themselves and the government than is possible from foreign interests.
We discourage selling logs to outsiders who process them elsewhere, or
use them for low value markets..

We do this by identifying high value end markets and bringing them
directly to villages where the cutters work. We train them to produce
high quality items, make a market for those products, and encourage
the development of other forest products.  Our objective is to harvest
no more trees from an identifyable ecosystem than what the ecosystem
can afford to yied without damaging its ability to recover.

Locals can receive 10 times the value of logs they traditionally cut
by cutting less tress and harvesting more of the forest products for
end products they sell. Without active programs to increase the value
of the forests to locals, locals will sell off the forests to cash
buyers.  That is what the U.S. has done.
Robert Sanders
Tropical Woods and Multi-Components 

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