Blue garden bench by Monsterkoi on Pixabay

Certified Wood Furniture – How To Shop Wisely

Have you ever thought about where the wood used to make the bench that we sit upon comes from? 

Have you ever felt insecure while buying wood furniture, not knowing if it is a product of deforestation or not? 

Have you ever wondered whether wood is cut just because there is a market of consumers for that? 

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any or all of the above, it means you are going in the right direction; being cautious while buying wood furniture, and being informed about wood certification. 

Certified wood is the wood that is officially approved by a certification organisation. This means that the wood came from a responsibly managed forest that could be anywhere in the world. To earn this certification, the wood producer develops standards of good forest management, and independent auditors issue certificates to forest operations complying with these standards. 

However, in practical terms, it is not as easy as that, since according to a WWF UK report ’Are you sitting comfortably? Sustainable timber sourcing and the UK furniture industry’, almost half of the furniture imported in 2015 came from illegal logging. It is vital to make clear that illegal logging is related to deforestation and loss of diversity of species. 

The fact that the UK government set new requirements for importing wood from the EU, and made certain types of firewood subject to statutory notification, does not exempt us from our responsibility for checking where the wood that we are using is coming from. These new rules are largely to do with plant health and trying to prevent pests and diseases being brought in; wood and other plant material may require a physical check before they are allowed across the border and some wood imports have been added to the list of controlled materials. 

Wooden furniture is cool and adds a lot to homes, offices and outdoor spaces; it is both practical and decorative. The fact is, wood is versatile and valuable in creating a rich and comfortable space. The popularity of wood has grown in the past few years, especially in more sustainable environmental designs, but can we trust they are sustainable wood? 

Well, sustainable wood comes from sustainable forests. So, how do we know if the wooden chair advertised in our local furniture shop comes from illegal logging or a well managed forest? 

The first organisation that certified wood was the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which was formed in 1993 to further the cause of sustainable forestry. It is now an international body with an impressive record; the gold standard when looking for sustainable wood products. Worldwide, in the indoor furniture sector alone, there are more than 6000 FSC certified companies, 500 of which are in the UK. Consumers are more aware of this fact and are more likely to look for the certified label from FSC, which attests that products are made with forest-based materials from well-managed forests and/or recycled sources.

This is the symbol and label to look out for.

Every FSC label features a unique license code, the validity of which can be verified using the FSC certificate database

However, actions don’t stop at wood furniture; from printed cards and books to construction supplies and loo rolls, the source of the wood used is needed. The more we remember that these objects were once trees, the more we will want a label which proves we are not buying into any deforestation.

The fact is, we should be looking for such labels next time we go shopping for wood.

Monica Mastrantonio 

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