The timber trade has become a major cause of forest loss. This activity affects some species of trees, but does serious damage. The problem is that in order to reach the desired trees, large areas need to be cleared and wood that is not commercially interesting must be discarded.

This unbridled decline occurs not only in the tropics, but also in temperate and boreal countries that still have significant native forests. Fortunately, the forest area of ​​Europe or North America is protected.

But in addition to timber exports as a source of foreign exchange, its use as fuel or the advancement of crops, livestock or mineral extraction seriously contributes to deforestation. 940,000 km have been lost in the past decade two of forests, which is almost twice the area of ​​Spain.

This unfortunate process does not occur in the same way in all countries, but there are areas where deforestation is greatest. These include: Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil or New Guinea. Deforestation is advancing in the wake of the expansion of agricultural crops and livestock and its spearhead is the extraction of wood to plant soybeans or oil palm.

How can I know if imported wood comes from places that are suffering deforestation?

It is easy to identify certified wood, but there is no way of knowing whether the wood comes from an illegal logging area. The best guarantee is certification. However, the fact that it is not certified does not mean that its trade is illegal. However, certain sources increase this risk.

A few years ago, Greenpeace published The “Guide to good wood”, Where wood consumption and production was analyzed and some interesting conclusions were drawn.

How to avoid a bad purchase?

Greenpeace advises the purchase of local wood. In the case of Spain, in the Pyrenees, Soria or other places where correct silvicultural management is carried out. There is no reason to think that only exotic woods can have bright colors or are fashionable (black, red).

Nowadays also the wood obtained in Spain can be dyed and treated to obtain the desired colors. Proximity shopping also helps to reduce transport, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

Which imported woods present “risk” of deforestation and which do not?

The guide lists more than 30 species common in the Spanish market with the corresponding degree of risk of being associated with cases of deforestation (which depends on the region of the planet from which they come, whether or not there are problems in their forests or war conflicts) .

  • Acceptable woods are chestnut, beech, oak, wild pine, walnut or bamboo.
  • They deserve the “problematic woods” stamp: fir tree, larch, hemlock, eucalyptus, pine radiata or red cedar.
  • And they are high-risk and very suspicious woods: merbau, iroko, teak, ipe, wenge, jatoba, meranti, sapele.

What losses does illegal logging cause?

The World Bank estimates that illegal logging represents a loss of 10 billion euros a year for producing countries: about 6% of that amount may be due to the Spanish market.