28 Jan Teak Source Matters
Teak source matters! Why it matters what you buy and where it comes from? Is your teak legally harvested, kiln-dried and grade certified?
Clients often ask us why there is such a large price range for teak furniture. Why not just buy your teak furniture from a discount store or the cheapest source online? We’re also asked whether teak is “environmentally friendly”. The fact is, that there are huge variations among teak, in terms of the price, quality, sustainability and durability. If the price seems too good to be true, chances are, it is! Very inexpensive teak may have been illegally harvested, be of a lower grade, not properly kiln-dried, or poorly constructed. Here are the questions one should be aware of when buying teak furniture:
1. Where does it come from – has the wood been illegally harvested or does it come from a controlled plantation?
2. Has the wood been properly dried before being made into furniture?
3. What is the grade of teak that has been used?
4. How has the furniture been constructed?
The benefits of girdling and kiln drying – longer lasting teak furniture
Good construction techniques – durable furniture
Illegal harvesting versus controlled plantations
The majority of teak trees are grown in Indonesia, although teak is not indigenous to that country. Teak grows in many parts of the world, including Thailand, Burma, Philippines, Brazil and Costa Rica, but the bulk of teak plantations are now on found on the island of Java, where plantations take up 2.5 million acres. We strongly urge our clients to purchase furniture made of teak that has been harvested only from controlled, or certified plantations, as there are compelling socio-economic and environmental reasons. Here is what the Rain Forest Alliance says about plantation, versus illegally harvested teak:
“Villagers who harvest and sell illegal teak find themselves at the mercy of middlemen, who pay notoriously low prices. Illegal logging depletes the teak resource, removing long-term income potential. Without careful management, teak groves can quickly be degraded and the resource loses its value….. In the meantime, communities around the forest are further impacted by erosion and subsequent siltation and the depletion of water resources as unsustainable numbers of trees are removed. Conversely, on a well-managed teak plantation the stumps are removed after harvest and the soil is replanted with seed. And because teak grows on 20 to 30 year cycles, replanting should be a continuous process, which doesn’t happen when trees are taken illegally.” Read the entire article
In a well-managed plantation, tractors, trucks or other heavy machinery are generally not used. All the labor is done by hand or by ox, preserving traditional land-use practices. Between man and ox, the efficiency is impressive. These plantations offer important economic opportunities to local populations: local workers are not only paid to work on the plantation, but they are able grow their own crops under the canopy of the trees. Here is what Gloster, one of the largest manufacturers of teak furniture, tells us about its plantations in Indonesia:“Plantation teak is inherently more environmentally friendly than natural forest timber because no teak trees existed until the plantations were established and, due to their careful management, trees are constantly being planted at a rate that exceeds those being felled. Most importantly, the plantations in Indonesia are actively managed to be a sustainable system which not only has low impact on the eco-system, but is also fully integrated into the Indonesian social system and maximizes local employment.”