When humans remove or harvest a resource, it often does not naturally return. We must restore and sustain the resource, or lose it. While sustainability seems like common sense, many companies don’t replace resources they’ve taken to build their products; particularly when cost and profit are driving their motivations.
At Masaya & Co, we re-establish resources taken by others and are committed to sustaining the resources we use to make our products. In addition to design and artisanal craft, we are dedicated to the forest and principles of sustainability. Let’s talk about reforestation and why it is vital to our business, our planet, and future generations.
1. What is a renewable resource and does wood qualify?
Renewable resources are natural resources that can be harvested, used, and naturally replenished and sustained. Wood is a renewable resource that can be cultivated and sustained without harming the forest. Most wood can be cultivated and harvested several times in a human lifespan.
A common misconception is that other materials, such as metal and plastic, are more environmentally responsible for making furniture. However, that’s simply not true. Plastic and metal are finite resources. Not only are they not renewable, but they also consume extensive amounts of energy to produce from other sources. Plastic and metal products ultimately present numerous long-term environmental issues. Wood, on the other hand, is a renewable raw material. It is usable in its natural form, presents no long-term disposable problems, and positively contributes to the planet’s ecology by sequestering carbon, cooling the earth, and providing natural habitats for wildlife.
2. Does wood furniture production contribute to deforestation and clear cutting practices?
Clear cutting is an abusive and controversial tactic associated with deforestation, often practiced by irresponsible lumber companies, big agriculture, or the livestock industry. All land has a natural use. Some land is naturally forest and other land may be naturally savannah or prairie.
Abuse happens when the natural use is artificially altered to force an unnatural use. This often happens in the livestock industry when massive boundaries of forest are clear-cut to provide pastures for cattle. Usually, because the land is not suitable for pasture, the pasture use fails in the short-term and more forest is clear-cut, creating a domino effect.
3. How important is the forest?
Environmental impact, like climate change & global warming, is the obvious effect of deforestation and a vital reason to practice reforestation. Trees naturally sequester carbon from the atmosphere and in doing so, cool the planet. As we cut down more trees and burn more carbon producing fossil fuels, more carbon exists in our atmosphere and our plant heats up. By now, this should be obvious.
Yet, one often-overlooked aspect is the positive economic impact a sustainably-managed forest can have on local communities. In many poorer regions of the world, like Nicaragua, it is important for locals to gather some economic benefit from the land, as opposed to letting it just sit. For this reason, people will often accept a payout to allow their land to be clear-cut for use like cattle farming.
We are committed to the reforestation of deforested land with tropical hardwood species. Every time we convert a cow pasture to a plantation or forest, we sequester carbon, improve water quality, restore the soil, reduce erosion, restore the habitat for native species, and create new jobs. Reforesting these damaged lands not only restores the land to its natural use, it also provides economic opportunities for the surrounding communities. Sustainably managed forests and tree farms create jobs in forestry as planting and maintaining the forest is a year-round activity.
4. How can I help reforestation efforts?
Your wallet is a megaphone that corporations and politicians will hear. Be conscious about where you spend your money and support companies that produce products in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable manner. Support responsible government policies that require reforestation, selective harvesting, and corporate accountability for carbon emissions. And, you can do what we do…. plant trees!