Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Year of Forests film raises concerns in wood flooring industry

Jim Gould
The United Nation's International Year of Forests 2011 is a year-long celebration of trees and forests on our planet. What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing on its face, yet I was alarmed by a film commissioned by the UN to support the endeavor.  The visually beautiful film focuses singularly on preserving trees by not cutting them; ignoring the benefits of sustainable forestry management. It leaves the impression that cutting down trees is bad. Period. That message is unbalanced and alarming.

Why is this alarming for the hardwood flooring industry?

Everyone in the hardwood flooring industry understands the positive benefits of wood flooring to the world. Consumers don't but they need to. If this industry wants to grow, we have a duty to educate consumers of the true story that wood harvested from well managed forests and turned into flooring creates the world’s most environmentally friendly floor covering available.

Regular readers may recall that I wrote about this last year in Wood Flooring Role .... in Sustainable Carbon Storage. Well managed forests - cutting down trees using sustainable practices -  actually enhances the carbon sequestration process by increasing the forests' ability to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. Carbon sequestered in harvested timber is transferred to durable products such as wood flooring, where it remains trapped for the life of the floor. Consumers who buy wood flooring participate in that cycle - a benefit that is unique to hardwood flooring.

I did not expect to be shocked and alarmed when I watched Of Forests and Men. The International Year of Forests is a noble concept I was prepared to support but after seeing this film I felt it was more important to warn the industry of the unbalanced message it contained and I did so at the international Wood Flooring Forum in Shanghai this past March where we viewed the film. I urged the wood flooring industry to provide its consumers with a more balanced message and explain the role of hardwood flooring in carbon sequestration; to educated them to the environmental benefits of sustainable forestry practices and benefits of owning hardwood flooring.

Of Forests and Men is available for download from the goodplanet.org or YouTube among others. Please take a moment to watch it at the link below.

It is incumbent upon the industry to ensure our products come only from sustainably managed forests.  I hope that manufacturers will develop marketing stories that include the carbon sequestration concept and that distributors and retailers will reinforce the story. Every grower, manufacturer, distributor and retailer must do their part. I am passionate about this and I hope this post prompts a dialog.

Our Industry must accept this challenge and I would really like to hear your thoughts and ideas.


Jim Gould is President of the Floor Covering Institute

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  1. Nice to watch it! However it is our responsibility to educate people that it is a misconception that harvesting trees for flooring is bad for the environment.

  2. I totally agree. Thank you for your comment and support.