Extra! Extra! Read all about it! “Ipe is Dead”. Now that’s a sensational headline…If only it were true. An ipe purchase contributes to deforestation, and the likelihood of illegal logging and forged documents is high. It’s a risky purchase. Especially if you need FSC certification, you’ll find those documents are hard to come by. Ipe has a dark side that everyone should inform themselves on before making a purchase. Read on to learn more about ipe and to hear about TerraMai’s new line of Water Reclaimed materials that are the complete solution for your decking, siding and outdoor furniture needs. Until consumers grasp the full picture, ipe unfortunately lives on in the exterior wood world.
So you need exterior wood…
Your project needs exterior wood and you’ve done your homework. At first, ipe seems the perfect option. It looks good. It’s readily available. The price point is manageable. It’s dimensionally stable and can stand up to rot and pests. It’s durability means it will last a long time. All good, good and good.
You note that its extreme hardness can make it quite difficult to install. Okay, one strike, but then you discover there is a truly dark side to ipe. Specifying ipe in your project is like specifying rainforest destruction. What?! The more you learn, the more you realize the difficulty in knowing if your ipe purchase will have been legally harvested.
The impact of an ipe purchase
The story of ipe logging makes for great cinema. Tragedy, drama, and suspence all together ripe with shady characters and do-gooders just one step behind. Except, it’s real and its wreaking havoc on the planet. I can’t make this stuff up. Here’s a direct quote from the Forest Monitor:
Illegal logging now accounts for between 15 and 30% of the global legal trade, according to recently published The Rapid Response Report, entitled ‘Green Carbon: Black Trade’. If we take into account that between 50 to 90% of illegal logging is located in tropical countries of the Amazon basin, Central Africa and South East Asia, we see that the problem is substantial. This illegal logging activities are carried out by organized crime, threatening efforts to combat climate change, deforestation, conserve wildlife and eradicate poverty.
In addition, together with illegal logging there are associated other meaningful crimes such as murder, corruption, fraud and theft, with indigenous forest inhabitants particularly affected.
Big stuff. You just wanted to purchase decking and found your purchase could be part of criminal activity and a cause of climate change. We are losing 1.5 acres of rainforest every second. Which is a crazy amount but it has been much worse. Some progress on rainforest destruction has been made. The rate of deforestation went down 76 percent from 2004 to 2007 and Brazil’s government stated the rate of deforestation fell by 16 percent between August 2016 and July 2017, compared to the same period 12 months earlier. Yet the exportation of ipe continues to flourish with the US being the largest importer. The criminals are creating more unique methods to skirt authorities such as sliding through implausible timber inventories and referencing harvest locations that require field audits to determine viability.
You can learn more about the problems associated with ipe here. Interpol, Greenpeace, and other courageous groups are working to combat illegal logging and to find solutions but you can do one thing to stop it all. Don’t specify or purchase ipe. What a difference a specification can make! Together we can stop specifying rainforest destruction.
But, what to do?!
What should architects and designers do when they need durable, attractive exterior wood?
Tropical hardwoods make for the best exterior material selection. These are hard, dense woods that are water and insect resistant, and able to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations. In commercial decking applications, tropical hardwood can last 20 to 50 years depending on installation, care and level of use. But as I’ve just belabored, purchasing tropical hardwoods presents real ethical concerns and should only be done with careful consideration. Enter the solution: TerraMai Water Reclaimed.
Decades ago, hydroelectric companies in the tropics dammed rivers and in the process flooded standing forests of tropical hardwoods. These reservoirs are numerous and enormous. Beneath the surface are perfectly preserved standing dead trees.
With special equipment and divers, the standing dead trees are brought to the surface and hauled onto land. This effort not only reclaims a hidden resource but can offset the need for tropical hardwoods derived via rainforest destruction. And here is the great news; TerraMai Water Reclaimed is durable, rot resistant, pest resistant, dimensionally stable, good looking and priced to fit your budget. All that plus a fantastic eco story.
Reach out today for samples and more information. We’d love to tell you more about this sustainably derived tropical hardwood resource.
TerraMai also offers two other sustainable decking options: FSC 100% Recycled Teak Decking and water reclaimed Cumaru Decking.