The Problem with Tropical Timber

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Processed wood products such as timber have seen a significant increase in demand over the last 50 years. This increase has led to some specific issues. Perhaps the most obvious one is that natural resources simply can’t keep up with it. But that’s far from being the only problem. With an increased demand for cheaper products, loggers have turned to natural forests for resources. Since primary forests are readily available, extracting resources becomes much easier. This is where the problem with tropical timber lies. Since it’s much cheaper, tropical timber becomes a much more attractive option. Unsurprisingly, many companies acquire their timber from illegal sources, which in turn keeps the cycle of deforestation and environmental destruction going.

This isn’t an easy problem to solve. After all, getting rid altogether of timber and wood-based products is simply unimaginable. Of course, seals and other forms of verification do exist. However, monitoring all these products is not a simple task, which means that frauds happen quite frequently. But raising awareness about this major problem is one way to deal with it. Slothino, as an eco-conscious casino brand, is always trying to bring attention to important environmental topics, such as tropical timber. Before checking our promotions and starting a new gaming session, come join us to learn a bit more about the major problem involving tropical timber.

Is Tropical Timber Any Different From Other Timber? 

The short answer is yes, tropical timber does have some differences compared to other similar products. While there is a difference in quality, the tropical timber’s main draw is its comparatively cheaper price. While timber from plantations requires some work, tropical timber is readily available at a minimal cost. Tropical timber originates from trees native to tropical and subtropical forests. The list of trees harvested for timber include mahogany, teak, ebony, rosewood, narra and chloroxylon. Since it’s relatively durable and also much cheaper, tropical timber quickly became the preferred alternative. It’s very versatile, and can be used in furniture as well as paper and other products.

Alternatives to tropical timber do exist. Other tree species, such as oak and locust are viable options. But then again, these aren’t as cheap as tropical timber due to the costs involved in planting and cultivating them. And since regulation on tropical timber is somewhat lax in most places, most companies don’t even bother with the effort. Many different factors play a part in making tropical timber such a common option.

Why is Tropical Timber a Threat to the Environment?

As you can imagine, the overexploitation of tropical timber has quickly turned into a major environmental threat. Estimates point that somewhere between 40% and 50% of all logging in rainforests and other important green areas is illegal or unsustainable. Illegal and unsustainable logging represent a share from 8% to 10% of all forest products around the globe. Around 24.7 million acres have already been converted into fast-wood plantations, and this number continues to grow at a rate of 2.5 million acres a year.

While commercially planted forests do help supply the demand, they also come with a problem of their own. It’s worth mentioning that most of these trees have been planted on deforested areas. Considering how these artificial forests continue to advance over territory previously occupied by primary forests, it’s fair to say that they are hardly a solution. If anything, they are another major threat.

The impact of illegal timber is massive. In some countries, tropical timber originated from illegal sources makes up from 50% to 90% of all production. This obviously creates many other problems. Deforestation is among the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, as it releases the carbon stored in trees back in the atmosphere. Any small changes to an ecosystem can cause huge disruptions. Tropical timber production has led to changes to the water cycle, soil erosion and biodiversity loss. There is also a massive social impact, as local communities often find themselves under threat from loggers.

What Can You Do to Help?

Initiatives do exist. The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) is responsible for promoting and overseeing sustainable timber production as well as the conservation of tropical forests. Since being established in 1986, the ITTO has signed three International Tropical Timber Agreements responsible for ensuring sustainable management and harvest of forest resources for tropical timber.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a certification system responsible for ensuring that all timber products follow strict rules regarding sustainability as well as environmental and social responsibility.

However, despite all the efforts, it’s still not enough. Frauds, a lax verification process and other problems undermine the credibility of these initiatives. For now, however, these are the only viable methods available. You can do your part by avoiding products that use tropical timber.

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