We use sustainable mahogany which is ethically grown and sourced. Since January 2014 all mahogany furniture exported from Indonesia requires certification to prove the wood used in the construction of their furniture comes form approved and legal sources. We actually had this certificate in place much earlier in May 2013.
All our mahogany obtained from government controlled plantations. Each log is stamped with a reference number to ensure it can be tracked from sapling through to mature tree and then onto the timber merchants. So you can rest assured that Indonesia is not stripping out fast swaths of prime rain forest to make our antique reproduction mahogany furniture. Mahogany never originally grew in Indonesia so is all plantation mahogany. That is not to say that these plantations are not now very important in the eco system of Indonesia as you will read about below and must at all costs be managed properly so that they are sustainable.
Type of Mahogany
The mahogany used in the crafting of our furniture is from the mahogany tree varieties Swietenia macrophylla & Swietenia mahogany and manufacture takes place in Indonesia on the Island of Java.
These varieties of mahogany originated in the South American region and so were never part of the original forests of Java. Java is one of the largest islands in Indonesia and it is from this island and the town of Jepara that our furniture is sourced. For further information about the type of mahogany used click here.
Furniture Industry & History
Indonesia when it was controlled by the Dutch, established mahogany plantations throughout Central Java as a commercial crop and in 1956 the Indonesian government took over these plantations. Farmers now operate these plantations on the basis of a long term cash crop and many rules and regulations are in place to ensure the forests are sustained.
Much of the production of furniture in Central Java is organised into three distinct operations. Firstly there are the suppliers of the mahogany (the plantations owners and sawmills). Secondly there are the carpenters and cabinet makers who purchase the wood from the sawmills. Finally there are the finishing factories where the product is finished to the customers requirements, wrapped and shipped.
These finishing factories are also normally marketing companies who gain orders from overseas and domestic clients. Of course some businesses are larger and can take on more of the operations so for example in our case (AKD Furniture) the furniture is made with wood that is sourced directly from the sawmills and then supplied to the cabinet maker to make the item that you perhaps ordered. In this way we have control over the quality of wood that is used in our products and the kiln drying process that is so very important in getting the moisture content to an acceptable level. These firms are concentrated in and around towns such as Jepara.
Many of the districts are striving to gain full FSC certification and indeed many districts have already met the requirements. It is perhaps important to understand that that furniture making in Java is a very important occupation and is responsible for the livelihood of many thousands of Indonesians and a source of much needed export trade for the country as a whole.
Indonesia was one of the first countries to establish rules to be allowed to import timber products into the EU, initially this was voluntary but in 2016 it became law. This means that in order to import timber into the UK our suppliers must provide timber licenses known as FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance & Trade). More information can be found at: http://www.euflegt.efi.int/indonesia
A recent study also found that sustainable community run plantations and forest areas produces a significant amount of mahogany to supply the local furniture manufactures.
Additional benefits come from these controlled forests is that they not only sustain wildlife but have an important impact in conserving both water quality and quantity.
The roots of the trees help to bind the soil and so reduce the possibility of land erosion and landslides. The space between the trees is moist and fertile and can support a whole range of other plants including food and cash crops which assists the local economy.
Indonesian economy booms http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13725438