Check here for answer to frequently asked questions about the Good Wood Guide and other consumer queries. Search for terms and definitions in our Good Wood glossary.
Good Wood is timber grown in plantations or harvested from 'well managed' forests or recycled, reused or salvaged wood. Good wood enables consumers to continue using wood products without causing forest destruction.
Do not use timber or timber products from:
Our Good Wood Guide rates timber species and products using a colour system of green, amber and red. Here is a guide to what these colours mean:
Green = Good Wood
These timber species are the best option. Good Wood timber species are:
Amber = 2nd Choice
These timber species should only be used after checking the source carefully. Amber wood includes sources that are in transition to Good Wood or from a non-controversial or neutral source. Question your supplier. If they can prove the wood product comes from one of the following sources, it is okay to buy. Please persist – it's your right to know. Amber status wood is:
Red = Bad wood
These timber species should not be used. All known supplies are from illegal and/or destructive logging.
Every day, forests are destroyed to produce timber for markets like Australia. Ancient forest destruction is a major global problem. Less than 10 per cent of the earth's surface is still covered by large intact forest areas, with over 80 per cent of its original forests destroyed or degraded. In Australia, it is estimated that 9% of wood imports or $400 million is from illegal sources. (Jaakko Poyry Consulting 2005: Overview of Illegal Logging. Report prepared for Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, September)
When forests are destroyed, they release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Around 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and land use change, making it a major contributor to dangerous climate change.
Forests harbour around two-thirds of the world's land-based plant and animal species. Forest loss contributes to the extinction rate, which is about 100 times faster than in pre-human times. Forests are critical to the livelihoods of tens of millions of indigenous people and forest-dependent communities.
We must protect remaining old growth forests to prevent harmful climate change and reduce the extinction rate. Only native forests that are ecologically harvested and meet the international standards of the Forest Stewardship Council scheme are considered Good Wood.
Not always. A plantation may be established after clearfelling an old growth forest. Before buying plantation timber, verify whether forests have been cleared to create the plantation (such as in Indonesia and Tasmania). The Forest Stewardship Council set a cut-off date of 1994 for conversion of forests to plantations, so avoid uncertified plantation timber cleared after this time. Native forests can be harvested ecologically and sustainably by indigenous communities to produce Good Wood (for example, ecotimber). Ecotimber helps forest communities control their own resources and fight illegal and destructive logging.
Small quantities of ecotimber from PNG and the Solomon Islands are available in Australia. FSC timber and wood is available from many countries.
Unfortunately, China has become the world's largest importer of tropical timbers and is known as the major 'launderer' of illegally logged timber from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Burma, Solomon Islands, the Amazon and Congo forests. Tropical and hardwood timbers used in Chinese furniture (such as merbau, bintangor, meranti, ramin and teak) are best avoided. Ask the retailer if the timber is FSC-certified. If they don’t know, tell them you only buy Good Wood and search for an alternative product.
Bad wood comes from a harvesting process that is illegal or ecologically damaging. Bad wood destroys forests, biodiversity, cultures and people’s lives.
Yes, depending on the source. For example merbau or kwila (two names for the same wood) can come from an illegal and destructive source in Papua New Guinea or Indonesia. Or it could come from an FSC or ecotimber source from PNG or Solomon Islands.
Unlike in Europe, only a handful of Australian suppliers make the effort to stock FSC-certified wood products. The Good Wood guide aims to encourage more timber merchants and retailers to stock good wood. You can help increase the supply of Good Wood in Australia by asking for FSC timber. Retailers like to know what their customers want. Retailers can download and complete the supplier form to get into the Good Wood Guide.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international scheme for certifying and labelling forest products as green or ecologically sustainable. It is the only credible scheme in the world and has certified over 70 million hectares of forests and plantations, including 600,000 hectares in Australia. When you buy a timber product carrying the FSC logo, you can be sure it comes from an environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial source. Find out more abou the FSC and certification.
Unlike FSC, the Australian Forestry Standards (AFS), developed under the Australian Forest Certification System (AFCS), is not a credible certification system or standard. It is a forest industry and government system developed to give recognition to Australian wood. AFS-certified areas include wood from the clearance of controversial old growth forests in Tasmania. AFS does not ensure indigenous peoples' rights and does not prohibit wood from genetically modified trees. There is no environmental organisation support for AFS.
Almost! Ecotimber from Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea is currently going through the rigorous FSC certification process. In the meantime, it is monitored by non-government organisations to ensure it meets minimum ecological and social standards. We hope FSC certification will be completed in 2010.
Timber is illegally logged when it breaches national or international laws. These include breaches of forestry laws (such as not getting the prior informed permission from the indigenous landowners, damaging soils and polluting waterways) and transport or customs regulations such as misclassification of species or amounts. It is a relatively simple process for an independent third party to establish if timber is illegal.
It’s best to assume the worst until proven otherwise when buying imported wood products. Unfortunately, many timber retailers unknowingly stock illegally logged wood products, especially from Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (including via China). Most Australian retailers and suppliers do not have chain of custody systems to accurately track where their wood products come from and there is no law to stop them importing illegally sourced wood.
If a product carries the FSC logo or is certified by the FSC, this is your guarantee that the timber you are purchasing is from a legal source. If it is not either FSC-certified or ecotimber, ask your retailer to provide credible documents that prove it is from a legal source, including legal verification by Tropical Forest Trust or SmartWood. Keep in mind that government and company guarantees are not credible as they may be involved in the illegal activities. These include MTCC (Malaysia Timber Certification Council), ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organisation) and BRIK (Indonesian guarantee scheme).
You can encourage timber traders to develop good wood purchasing policies.
To end Australia's complicity in the illegal logging of the Paradise Forests, the Australian government must introduce legislation banning imports of illegally logged timber and wood products into Australia. Take action.
Ask for proof that their products are from a legal source. If they cannot provide proof, write to the company manager and raise your concerns. Point out that it is likely they are selling timber from illegal sources, possibly without their knowledge. Invite them to download the Greenpeace procurement policy to help them phase out illegal stock.
Urge your retailer to source FSC or other Good Wood products for you. You may want to mention that you are willing to pay a little more for Good Wood products rather than support forest destruction by buying cheap, illegal products.
If you are a timber or furniture merchant, manufacturer, retailer, or specifier and would like to be included in the Good Wood Guide, download the form, print it out, fill in your product details and fax it to (02) 9261 4588. We will verify your details and add your Good Wood products to the guide.
Forest destruction is responsible for about one fifth of global greenhouse emissions each year. This is because forests trap carbon and help stabilise the world's climate – when they are destroyed carbon is released.