It’s easy to make the assumption that using wood in furniture, flooring and construction is the greenest option. It's a natural product that neutralises CO2 and absorbs pollution during its growth, then biodegrades harmlessly at the end of its life.
So far, so good – yet worldwide around 5,000 species of tree are threatened with extinction. That figure includes many traditionally been used in interiors, such as ebony, rosewood, mahogany, merbau, wenge and zebrawood.
And in the case of teak
, the most used hardwood, the illegal or poorly managed harvesting of timber, especially in virgin forests, destroys animal habits and poses a serious threat to indigenous people. For example, the WWF
charity reports that legal logging of big-leaf mahogany
is destroying the habitat of the rare giant otter, while felling of Korean Cedar Pine
in far-eastern Russia
is decimating the local wild boar population, the main source of food for the critically endangered Amur
'I think it is important to work with sustainably sourced timber,' says interior architect and designer Louise Christie,
bookshelves are made from FSC birch ply
or recycled tulipwood
. 'Most of us take wood for granted and rarely think about where it's been taken from. Nor do we think of the conditions in which the population of that country live or the damage caused to their environment by the destruction of their forests.'