How much is your Teak hardwood floor worth to you?
You’re so proud of your new wooden floor – the golden tones work perfectly with your minimalist décor, or the rich, deep mahogany is the perfect complement to a more traditional look. But how much has your wooden floor cost you – and more importantly, how much has it cost the planet?
According to a recent release by the United Nations Environment Programme during the last 100 years, the world has lost over 80% of its original forests. Every day, approximately 375 square kilometres of forest is destroyed. That isn’t sustainable forests specifically planted for the timber industry – that’s ancient, irreplaceable hardwood forests that have taken centuries to mature and support an entire (and very fragile) eco-system. It seems that doing the ‘green’ thing and choosing a wooden floor might not be so environmentally friendly than you first thought.
But before you send us a postcard from your guilt-trip, don’t panic too much! There are ways of getting an environmentally friendly wooden floor that has all the beauty of a traditional hardwood floor but with minimal impact on those delicate ecosystems. And no, you don’t have to go purely for laminates or bamboo – you can still have a hardwood floor that doesn’t destroy ancient forests.
Malaysia – working harder to protect its environment
Much of the world’s teak and exotic hardwoods come from the forests of Malaysia. For generations, these resources were exploited with no thought of the long-term consequences, but today Malaysia is working much harder to protect what is one of its prized commodities.
The result is that today, most commercial teak that is used for hardwood floors and exported around the world is grown on managed plantations. And while old-wood teak is still a rare and highly prized commodity, continued demand has meant that supplies of non-commercially grown teak have been superseded by commercially grown wood, shaping an entire industry.
The entire effort is overseen by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which certifies wood products that are made from timber that has been grown and harvested in a sustainable manner, including teak. Recognising that to ensure a future for the forestry industry is key to the continued prosperity of the country, Forest Sustainability (Malaysia) is working with the FSC to develop a nationally-adapted certification standard for use by certification bodies in the country. This will mean that Malaysian teak will conform to internationally recognised standards for sustainability, minimising the impact on the non-commercial hardwood forests and protecting Malaysia’s rich environmental diversity for years to come. It will also have the added benefit of making genuine teak flooring more affordable for consumers.
To support this campaign of sustainability, the Malaysian Timber Certification Council has its own timber certification scheme that has been endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). That has encouraged 142 forest owners, manufacturers, logging companies and distributors to join the FSC scheme, and others to sign up to the PEFC certification. The bottom line is that Malaysia is taking the lead role in encouraging an entire (and very profitable industry) to think, grow and act in a more sustainable manner, by emphasising the long-term benefits to the country of abandoning the destructive harvesting methods of the past.
So there’s really no need to feel quite as guilty about your teak flooring as you thought – as long as you check that it’s come from a sustainable source. If you’re in any doubt, talk to a reputable floor sanding company for expert advice on how to ensure your floor doesn’t cost you – or the planet – a fortune!