Forest Network have often faced a dilemma when asked about alternatives to the products of current regimes. If we promote timber and paper products from native forests we are contributing to the destruction of natural systems. If we advocate sourcing timber and fibre from plantations we are, we contend, still contributing to the destruction of natural systems.
How can this be?
Our dilemma is that we cannot, with clear conscience, provide a blanket endorsement of products derived from either native forest or plantation timbers. We believe that timber and fibre can be produced sustainably in both a forest or plantation setting, but unfortunately we can find few examples of sustainability in either sector. The dominant methods of production are detrimental to the natural systems that we are committed to conserving. (See plantations and alternative vision for critique, solutions and improvements that we advocate for these production systems).
That is why we, at this point in time, recommend only recycled timber and paper products. It is regrettable that even recycled timber is derived from a source (management system / model) that is not sustainable long term but it deters senseless exploitation and encourages responsible resource management for the long term.
If we accept that "development" and "progress" for humans needs to be constructed within the limitations of the natural systems that have nurtured the evolution of our species over millions of years, then we shouldn't mind doing a little research to facilitate the spiritual, intellectual and physical advancement of our kind.
How to source recycled, second hand or acceptable timber and paper products
If we were to construct a hierarchy of preference for which timber to use we would start with recycled followed by plantation and in last place native timbers. It's difficult to choose between plantation and native timber, both are a no-win situation, but while the native forest industry in Victoria still logs rainforest and old growth forest it should not be supported in any way. Of course in some situations there is no substitute for native timbers because of their superior technical and aesthetic properties. Fortunately there a very few suppliers and mills who are acceptable. We hope to provide contacts for these companies in the online version of the Good Wood Guide.
Friends of the Earth Melbourne have produced a detailed guide to good wood and paper supplies and also stocks a selection of recycled paper. A 2004 version of the Good Wood Guide is being prepared and should be available soon. We are also working on an on-line version. To get a hard copy of the guide or to purchase recycled paper phone 03 9419 8700 or email us. Otherwise...
Although sourcing second hand can be more difficult it is very satisfying to know that you are doing the right thing.
If you're in AUSTRALIA try the yellow pages . Type in recycled &/or second hand timber and you'll find local suppliers and any other information you might need.
If you're looking for second hand stuff (any/all timber products) the Trading Post is good value.
In Victoria try Woodlink (but try to avoid producers from the primary cycle).
The RIC Good Wood Guide is an invaluable glimpse into some of the idiosyncracies and flaws of the timber industry as well as possible alternatives.
EcoRecycle Victoria also have information on timber and paper recyclers and all facets of recycling.
Paper accounts for about three quarters of all timber fibre consumed so it is vital that we find ways to reduce consumption generally and increase the overall rate of recycling if we are to ameliorate pressure on natural systems.
The bookshop at Friends of the Earth Melbourne stock a selection of recycled paper. To purchase paper from them phone 03 9419 8700 and ask for the bookshop or email us. The FoE shop is at 312 Smith St. Collingwood.
Australian Paper Watch have information about and and overview of paper use in Australia.
For an overview of the whole paper issue the Conservatree site in the U.S. is a valuable resource.
You can also download a Good Paper Guide [157 KB] in PDF form
The Wilderness Society also have some information..