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The Expense of Timber to Humans and to Orangutans

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Whenever the term ‘Deforestation’ comes up, I feel worried – at least for a brief moment, before I forget all about it until next time. After all, there is a lot more for me to worry about in life rather than something that’s out of my control – or is there?

We’ve been a regular supporter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) at Futurewood for a long time, especially of their Orang-utan program. As a part of our partnership with them, we get regular updates about the amazing Orang-utan work that the guys at WWF put in. It’s one of these recent updates from them that got me to rethink my priorities, for the better. And with a sincere hope that it has a similar effect on you, here’s an excerpt from the email from WWF that I received on the 1st of January 2017:

“A lot’s been happening recently, so we touched base with our colleague Donna, a member of WWF’s Sabah orang-utan team currently working in-the-field. You can imagine how thrilled we were to come across three new female orang-utans recently, including one with an infant.

We spotted the mother and her adorable baby first, sitting in the branches of a bayur tree, chomping on some tree bark.

The little infant had a fine covering of reddish-brown hair and looked under a year old. It was clinging to its mother, and unfortunately we couldn’t make out whether it was a boy or a girl. We named the mother Beatrice and the infant Mason after a WWF colleague and her child.

Expense Of Timber To Orangutans

Beatrice and baby Mason – Photos and graphics © WWF

Moving on, we came across a freshly made orang-utan nest and soon spotted its owner – a young female with gorgeous spiky hair. She too was in a bayur tree, eating bark. We named her Julia, after another of our colleagues.

A couple of days later we found female number three – again, munching on bayur tree bark! We named her Hao Jin after (you guessed it) another WWF colleague. Bayur is one of the tree species being used to replant damaged areas of Bukit Piton Forest Reserve, and it’s great to see the orang-utans making the most of it. But we also made a worrying discovery…

Orang-utans depend on trees for food, shelter and to move through the forest, so we were concerned to find a huge agar tree lying on the forest floor. Your adopted orang-utans’ home is a protected reserve where cutting down trees is illegal, so whoever did this was after something. We think they felled the tree to extract its resin, which is used to make perfumes, incense and medicines.

We reported our discovery to the Sabah Forestry Department so they can take further action. Let’s hope they can nip this crime in the bud before any more trees are destroyed.

Thank you for your continued help to protect these amazing animals through your adoption. We look forward to catching up with you again soon.”

Before you jump into any conclusions, pause for a minute and think “who is ACTUALLY responsible for this crime?”

The obvious ones – Tree poachers or the companies behind the sweet smelling perfume brands OR someone else?
If you ask me, I would say definitely not (only) the former. After all, if there is demand, supply will follow – a basic principle of the commercial world. I’ll explain more about that in a minute.

We all know that Agar’s aren’t the only trees that have a sad fate like in this story. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are hundreds of tree species that are currently threatened by deforestation. However, for the purpose of this article, I would like mention a special species known as Intsia Bijugais. More commonly known as Merbau, these have been increasingly used for decking in our backyards for many decades now. And as a result, the international union for conservation of nature (IUCN), have classified these as a vulnerable species – i.e. they are one step closer to extinction. Sadly, many other species continue to face a similar threat or should I say threat from crimes by the human race.

I know that “Crime” may seem like a strong term here, but like in the case of Orang-utans, deforestation is likely to be classified as a Crime in the near future. And as far as I am concerned, I don’t want to be a party to this crime (present or future) by supporting . deforestation as a consumer.

Moral of the story: We need to be more responsible as consumers, if not for the present, for the sake of our future generations. Timber might appear to be a cheap option at this stage, however the real expense of our current actions will be paid for by many generations that follow.

If you’re interested in WWF and their work, you can check them out at:

Futurewood is a supplier of recycled composite decking, cladding, fencing and screening solutions made from recycled plastic (industrial & post-consumer waste), rice husks and recycled hardwood timber.
While, Futurewood looks like timber, it is much more ecologically sustainable than timber.


Email Text © WWF Used Under Creative Commons License.


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