How Ethical Are Wooden Gates? What you should consider!
There are many options when it comes to gates for your driveway. If your first choice is wooden gates, then there are a few things that you should know. It might seem like a minefield, but if you always purchase Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved wood from an ethical country then you know you are doing your bit to help our planet.
Deforestation is classed as one of the world’s biggest environmental issues. Fast developing areas like South America, Southeast Asia and Africa are cutting down huge numbers of trees. This is causing land to erode, silt waterways, displacement of indigenous people and wildlife, not to mention it also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Of course, wood is essential to us. Without it, we wouldn’t have buildings, furniture, paper, and other essentials that we use every day.
We aren’t for one-minute suggesting that you shouldn’t use wooden gates, they are a brilliant option for gates, but it would be beneficial to our planet if you consider a few things when making your selection.
Some trees take considerably more time to grow than others. When successful methods of forestry management are undertaken, fast growing trees are harvested rather than those smaller ones that take much longer.
The EU has introduced legal measures to protect its woodlands and forests meaning that forests are actually growing instead of diminishing. The law places a minimum requirement on replacing harvested trees, as well as limiting annual harvests; you are usually safe when buying European wood.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Always choose FSC sourced wood. FSC helps take care of forests and the people and wildlife who call them home.
They run a global forestry certification program that aims to increase sustainable forestry and educate people on why and where to buy sustainable woods.
Find our more about the FSC on their website.
Types of Wood
Timber is usually classified as; hardwood from beech and oak, or softwood from conifers like pine and fir. However, fast-growing species like pine trees tend to be more sustainable than slow-growing trees like oak. It is somewhat harder to sustainably manage oak trees, however, it is possible.
What to Avoid
Environmentally sourced teak is difficult to find. Burma is the only country that still exports teak from natural forests; however most of this is illegally.
This dark wood is used in construction and furniture, especially for garden furniture. There are over 70 species of Asian mahogany, and more than 50% of these are endangered.
The logging of red cedar from North America’s coastal rainforests is destroying the ecosystem and threatening the habitats of bears, some bird species and thousands of wild salmon.
Where in the World
It’s vital to consider the country from which your wood comes from. For example, oak from Estonia may be illegal, and French oak isn’t well regulated. If you buy from Canada, check that the supplier is working with environmental groups to improve local practices. Did you know that poor and illegal logging practices of another wood called Larch in Russia have put the Siberian tiger at high risk?
Greenpeace provide a very useful guide for selecting woods and making the sustainable choice.
We’ve also written a handy article to explain how to maintain your wooden gates.