What is sustainable wood and why is it important?

We constantly hear the terms eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, recycled and sustainable when it comes to home interiors, but you're not alone if you're not clear what makes wood sustainable? Here, we look at everything you need to know about sustainable timber.

For many hundreds of years when people wanted to build something, they would go into the forest or woods and chop down the trees they needed for the job. Of course, after 1000's of years of people just helping themselves and with the huge increases in population across the world, the forested areas were starting to get a bit sparse. After the first world war, the forested areas in the UK was at an all-time low and so the Forestry Commission was formed to replant and manage forest areas in the UK.

close up of logs of wood

What actually is sustainable wood?

Sustainable wood is timber that can be used for building, furniture production etc. without having a detrimental effect on the environment. It generally comes from a renewable source where trees can be felled and replanted with little knock-on effect to local wildlife, eco-systems and the environment in general. The felling of trees is responsibly managed by organisations whose main concern is the long term well-being of the environment.

Why buy sustainable wood?

It makes perfect sense to buy wood from a sustainable source as opposed to other sources. Sadly, still much of the wood sold around the world is not from a sustainable source, even in Europe. The impact of deforestation, even rain forests 1,000's of miles away, affects us all. There is a human element to deforestation too - tribes people are forced out of their homes and local farmers are often subject to exploitation if the felling of trees is not regulated correctly. All of these reasons point to why sourcing sustainable wood for our rustic furniture is the responsible choice.

reclaimed wooden bed frame with pink covers

Types of sustainable wood

There are many types of sustainable wood you can choose from - mango wood is a fast-growing hardwood that is a by-product of mango farms, so this is ideal to produce sustainable furniture from. Other materials, such as, rattan, Douglas fir, certified oak and ashwood are also sustainable. Of course, the best wood to use is reclaimed wood - this can be used to craft the most gorgeous reclaimed furniture such as a full of character farmhouse table, a sturdy and solid wood bed frame or a decorative rustic sideboard.

How can you identify sustainable wood?

rustic sideboard with mosaic pattern

You can easily check if unprocessed timber or a piece of reclaimed wood furniture is crafted from a sustainable source by looking out for the internationally recognised FSC certification.

Which woods should be avoided?

When it comes to choosing wood furniture or timber for construction then there are some woods that should be avoided....unless of course, you are satisfied it has the correct FSC certification. These include teak in general, Mahogany, Ebony and Sapelee. Many of these tree species are endangered and frequently felled and exported illegally even though they are vital to the people, the wildlife and ecosystems that surround them.

If you want some ideas on how to furnish your home in a sustainable way, we've created some top tips, or read our blog on creating an eco-friendly interior design.


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