We at Wood Stock Flooring take environmentalism and sustainability issues very seriously and place these issues at the core of our values in everything that we do. Indeed, modern discussions of our age make it clear that such considerations are not necessarily different to those that have always preoccupied commerce, we have simply learned from experience.
1- Sustainability is about making our company more efficient, saving costs, reusing our production waste back into our products and reducing the energy we use to lower overheads. This is how we keep our prices so low.
2-Sustainability is about improving science, not relying solely on rule of thumb knowledge and old experience. We invest time and effort into real research and found our practices squarely within demonstrable evidence and ongoing research.
3- Cradle to grave lifecycle management. We manage our own forests and are involved throughout the production process. Some of your floors are made from trees that we knew when they were saplings, so we hope that you appreciate them!
This is why all wood floors traded by Wood Stock Flooring are built with the best hardwoods, sourced exclusively from members of the Brazilian Sustainable Forest Management Plan (PMFS). For our high-performance engineered floors, we make our superlative engineered floors using a Eucalyptus and hardwood offcuts. These offcuts themselves are the refuse from our own cutting process. The Eucalyptus woodchips that we use in our engineered ply, mixed with reused hardwood woodchips, is a fast growing species that is not only highly sustainable, but which also displays excellent performance under conditions of changeable heat and moisture.
We also do not use Formaldehyde or any other VOCs during our production cycle, and all our products are CARB certified.
An excellent independent resource is accessible through the BVRio website at http://timber.bvrio.org/, or you can download and search using the app “BVRio”. These are viewable in most languages, including English. The BVRio system checks the legality and origin of any wood that you might have been supplied or which you might have been offered by a supplier. By entering the GF code for the wood (Forest Guide code, Portuguese: Guia Florestal), you can immediately see information including:
- – In depth analysis of risks and illegality of the whole Chain of Custody, including
- track record of managers involved
- satellite imagery analysis
- volumes of precious species
- – Registration and Analysis on the Custody Chain
- – Detailed Verification Report
We would like to point out at this stage that the ongoing global conversation concerning best practice for sustainability, of which we are but one part, is both heated and constantly evolving. We therefore invite the reader to speak to one of our specialists if they would like more information on this matter than can be reasonably dealt with here, either in our showroom or electronically. There are many independent sources of information that evaluate and provide information concerning the construction and home furnishing industries, as well as sustainability and the stewardship of natural resources more generally in newly industrialised countries.
The Sustainable Forest Management Plan (PMFS)
Portuguese: Plano de Manejo Florestal Sustentável
Our hardwood is grown in the sub-tropical and temperate forests of the south of Brazil and also in the Amazon river basin. You may have heard discussions in the media concerning deforestation and sustainability, both in general and concerning the Amazon, in particular. We would therefore like to outline the pertinent facts and information, as well as the importance of sustainable lumber harvesting to the preservation of the rainforest itself.
Roughly 5,0 Mi km2 of Brazil’s territory is considered to form part of the Amazon. This is around 15% larger than the European Union, or 38 ½ times the size of England, and represents a full 59% of Brazil’s sovereign territory. Of this area, 49% is protected under Federal Law as land that has been set aside as either Indigenous Territory or National Parks.
This leaves 51% of the river basin variously in the hands of family farmers or companies, settled by federal programs, middle to large scale farmers, or indeed by the Federal or State Governments themselves. According to Federal law, at least 80 % of all privately held land must be put aside for preservation. This follows from laws passed by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 2002, which increased this quota from 50% to 80%.
A private tenant may therefore exploit 20% of his land but is legally bound to protect 80% of this area. He is held responsible for maintaining the land, pays taxes to the local government to fund good governance and social protection, and has a vital role in stewardship of this important natural resource.
For private owners of land within the bounds of the Amazon river basin and who wish to produce certified timber as part of the PMFS scheme:
- – Maximum allowable harvest is 30m3 per hectare for mechanized cutting and 10m3 per hectare without heavy machinery – harvesting cycles are 35 years and ten years, respectively.
- – For any forest species whose minimum cutting trunk diameter has not previously been determined, the minimum cutting diameter is set at 50 cm.
- – From the population of commercially viable trees which are acceptable for harvesting, 10% must be set aside to bear seeds and maintain a steady long term population within each 100-hectare working unit.
- – A tracking system (chain of custody) is required for harvested trees as they progress through the supply chain (called IBAMA).
- – Use of waste wood is allowed.
Young trees remove three times more carbon from our atmosphere than old trees so it makes sense to use as much timber as possible in our construction so that new trees can be planted. As long as timber comes from sustainable sources we know that at least three trees will be planted for every old one cut down. This is the essence of the PMFS.
To comply with PMFS standards, the owner must engage an independent forestry engineer to complete an inventory of the entire forest in question, detailing and itemising the measurements, specie and geographic coordinates of each tree using a system called Modeflora (Digital Model of Forest Exploitation), a new system which has revolutionised forestry management within the Amazon river basin.
Once the data collected, the commercially available trees are divided in 3 groups:
1- Seeding: These are trees which have been specified to reseed the rainforest to ensure a strong, healthy tree population within each species. Considerations such as size, alignment and lack of defects are all taken into account. A list of protected species is also included here, which will not be disturbed under any circumstances.
2- Set Aside: Immature trees have a smaller trunk diameter and will be left to mature. However, their progress will be measured and reported periodically, and they may be re-categorised during the next harvesting cycle.
3- Harvestable: Harvestable trees are those which have reached maturity and which are suitable for harvesting. They are not included in the protected list and they must have a minimum distance from any river, stream or lake.
Only once the final shortlist of mature trees has been completed by an independent forestry engineer and approved by the state environmental board can the exploration, harvesting and removal of the trees take place. When this takes place, it must adhere to regulations by using specific technics to minimise any impact to the surrounding forest. After the exploration, studies continue and periodic measurements are taken. A new exploration cycle can be requested after between 25 and 30 years.
Modeflora and IBAMA
Since September 2006, forest product transportation has been controlled through a national information system, IBAMA’s Forest Origin Document system. Within this system, forest products are tracked from their point of harvesting to the final stage of sale. The entire supply and transportation chain is continuously updated online in real time, constituting a significant advancement in the control of illegal logging in Brazil.
IBAMA is enabled by a system called Modeflora (Digital Model of Forest Exploitation), which has been hailed as a technological breakthrough in forest management. Modeflora uses highly accurate georeferencing and geomonitoring throughout the various stages of forestry management, from the preparation of a forest management plan (PMFS) to its implementation, combining the use of forest inventory techniques, operational research and a range of technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), GIS, radar and satellite images. Modeflora enables a reduction of at least 30% from the cost of preparing and implementing PMFS. It also reduces field error and increases the accuracy of tree-tracking and micro-zoning by enabling the production of maps at a scale of 1:15.
Of the 500 million hectares within the Amazon river basin, 354 Mi hectares are forested. Of Brazil’s total forests, 113 Mi hectares are held in public hands and 106 Mi are held by native tribes. Within the Amazon, 2.94 Mi hectares are managed under PMFS.
To put this into perspective, Brazil lost 2.19 million hectares of forest per year during the period 2005 – 2010 (ITTO report, 2011).
There is clearly a lot that needs to be done to protect these vast areas of land. On a positive note, however, Brazil has succeeded in slowing the rate of deforestation whilst also enjoying positive growth. This crucially demonstrates that Brazil’s economy is decoupling itself from the unsustainable plundering of natural resources and is starting to see instead the benefits of better governance upon growth.
Much of this deforestation is used by irregular settlements as a device to demonstrate ownership, sometimes even by armed groups backed by strong mafias. Once the land has been deforested, the government often finds that there is little that it can do to repair the damage.
Brazil’s constitution is sympathetic to minorities and small land owners, and many of Brazil’s politicians understandably see in the rainforest a powerful mechanism to increase social mobility, reduce the wealth gap and fight poverty. It may seem surprising, but strong mainstream politicians who champion rainforest conservation on the one hand will often find themselves supporting activities that are destructive to the rainforest on the other.
There is therefore strong social and economic motive behind deforestation. It can dramatically increase land value, even without working the land itself. For example, a piece of forest that is worth £200 can be resold for £1,600 simply by clearing, or even for £5,000, once seeded for cattle. The wood is sold separately onto the black market. A 2008 report by Chatham House suggested that the proportion of illegally forested wood to be 72%, according to first hand private accounts by analysts.
This land is then usually sold to agricultural purposes, particularly cattle ranching. A 2009 Greenpeace report found that the cattle trade in Brazil was responsible for around 80% of all deforestation in the region, constituting around 14% of the world’s total deforestation. Another estimate is more conservative at 70%, signalling just how difficult the black market is to measure.
The Brazilian government has therefore been inviting entrepreneurial landowners to take up sustainable lumber production as an alternative to clearing for cattle ranching. Tenancy has a hugely positive in effect on conservation. A corollary can be seen in the tribal reserves, some of which have been so actively protected by their inhabitants that they can be seen outlined from space.
Indeed, increasing scrutiny is enabling us to constantly improve surveillance and the revenue through legal means allows the income from the Amazon’s own resources to be used to improve the quality of policing and rule of law.
The central point here is that whilst it may seem strange that modern ecological discussion should be promoting the use of our natural resources, there is a fundamental reason why this should be a good idea. The sustainable use of these resources is both achievable with effective management and governance, and also puts tax revenues and resources into the hands of those who protect the forests and are fighting to ensure its long term survival.
What is important to understand is that legal logging is only viable when practised by legal owners of the land when it is sustainable over the long term. Therefore, by buying Brazilian wood from a known source such as Wood Stock Flooring, rather than through any unspecified source, you are helping to protect the Amazon Rainforest.
All of our Brazilian floors at Wood Stock Flooring are sourced through the PMFS scheme. Our FCS stamp can be supplied on request, and we encourage our customers to ensure that this is the case whenever buying any wood products which have been sourced from Brazil.