We who are involved in this global business know and fully understand the benefits of wood for the environment: its aesthetic properties; its strengths in structural applications; how to improve its properties for certain uses by preservative treatment; and how to enhance its inherent decorative nature with a panoply of finishes such as paints, lacquers, decorative papers, veneers, etc.
We have no doubts about the advantages of using wood and the importance of this natural product to people’s everyday lives. The distortion of the whole ‘wood message’ by indignant headlines (quite rightly) about the over-exploitation of tropical forests in the ’90s, which damaged the public perception of wood of all kinds, is a battle that was won, although some stigma remains.
But we are still fighting more and more battles. Why?
Because of attacks from people who lack the knowledge and understanding which our industry has, or who do not see the wider implications of their attacks for the environment.
A perfect example is the encouragement and financial incentives being given to energy generators in Europe to burn wood. On the face of it, the EU regulators must have thought it was a perfect solution to their problems and a use for ‘waste’ wood. One can see how the issue of depriving particleboard manufacturers of a major source of raw material, or how panel products lock up carbon, might not have entered their heads.
Thanks to CEI-Bois and the EPF, they should now be able to see the consequences of their short-sighted action.
However, what set me off on this train of thought was the disturbing news story on page 7 of this issue.
California, well known for its environmental paranoia over the years, has now decided to introduce draconian formaldehyde emission limits, which the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) claims are "below the levels found in the natural environment". Seemed like a good idea at the time?
The industry did respond to the original formaldehyde ‘scare’ and that is why we have E1 and so-called E0 grades.
So we have another battle, but the war can be won – with ‘propaganda’ – telling the world how good wood is and supporting the industry associations as they strive to put that message across.