|We're destroying his home in the quest to build ours. |
©Photograph: Attila Balazs/epa/Corbis via The Habitat Advocate
The issue is - Merbau, a timber product I'm vehemently against the use of and am not afraid of saying so, not even to a client. This is the ethical dilemma I'm faced with - are my morals and values of high enough significance for me to walk away from a paying job - I believe they may be...
Merbau (also known and sold as Kwila) grows in the rainforests of South-east Asia: the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. It is commonly used in timber decking and flooring and is very popular in Australia due to its durability and resistance to termites. The problem is that the majority of Merbau is illegally logged, deforesting and destroying these pristine locations, exploiting the local communities and driving wildlife to the brink of extinction.
Australia is a large contributor to this serious problem as we keep providing the demand for the supply. It is very difficult to guarantee the source of the timber is legal, and somewhat difficult to trust those who imply it is. For example, Rimbunan Hijau, a Malaysian based global forest logger which controls around 60% of the forest industry in Papua New Guinea, is in fact owned 50% owned by the Boral 'Group' of Australia and 50% by Caltex (source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24211537/2258-Christchurch-New via The Habitat Advocate
The issue is HUGE and far reaching, but one I feel passionate about and therefore am not scared by the thought that it is one which is too big for one person to make a difference. I could think of myself as just a Horticulturist who has no power whatsoever to make a difference. But I don't believe in such a defeatist attitude. Instead I am a Horticulturist whose mission it is to educate others about the choices we can make and the changes we can help bring about by starting in our own backyards. I chose not to follow this career path only because I love pretty gardens and flowers, but because I want to inspire and educate others. It is my duty of care to both clients and the environment to provide more environmentally friendly alternatives. As the saying goes, "knowledge is power". Therefore, by informing my clients I hope it would not come to me having to walk away from the job. Instead I would hope to have informed them of the benefits of using other materials leaving them with no doubt they are making a much wiser choice by going with a more sustainable product.
The argument against using this product is really much too long and involved to go into on this particular post, but as it is something I feel so incredibly strongly about, is something I will post further on.
To learn more about sustainable options and vital statistics about the devastation of illegal logging visit these links:
Forest Stewardship Council Australia - Find a FSC Certified Product
Good Wood Guide
CHOICE reviews Sustainable Flooring
Behind the Veneer
The Last Frontier