Lesser Known Hardwood Species
Here in the UK and throughout Europe there is a high demand for tropical timber. Most of this demand is focused on just a few well known wood species; however tropical forests contain a multitude of lesser known species. A great number of these species have commercial value and hold promise for unfulfilled sustainable production.
It can be very difficult to source high quality timber in some popular wood species, and certain species have even been threatened with extinction due to over harvesting. Growing in abundance alongside these popular species in the same forests there may be numerous other species that look very similar and have similar technical qualities which have previously been ignored by the international market. Reasons for this include poor knowledge of the physical properties and end uses of these lesser known species.
If only the popular species are harvested then the composition of the forest would be adversely affected. In a natural tropical forest that is certified to FSC standards, a wide variety of timber species are harvested, all in lower volumes. Using lesser known species helps to promote sustainable forest management in developing countries and helps these countries keep land managed as forests and not destroyed and converted to farms and ranches.
Throughout the world a number of campaigns are underway to increase the awareness of lesser known tropical timber species and as a result architects and manufacturers are increasingly considering their use.
The main benefit to the end user is that lesser known timber species tend to be less expensive. This is not because they are inferior in any way; it is simply because the high demand for the well -known species pushes up the market price. In other words you could be paying a premium price to buy a wood species with a name that you recognise.
A task force of experts appointed by the International Wood Products Association (IWPA) is identifying lesser-known species that meet the both the technical qualities and availability requirements of architects, manufacturers and consumers.
Two of those species identified are now stocked by Silva Timber as sustainable and economical alternatives to Ipe and other tropical hardwoods that have rocketed in price in recent years due to the high worldwide demand.
Density - 830kg/m3 Hardness - 1,700lbf Botanical name - Apuleia leiocarpa Origin - Bolivia Wood Type - Tropical Hardwood
The first of those species, Garapa, is a lustrous golden brown hardwood with good dimensional stability and class 2 / 3 durability (according to TRADA).
It grows in abundance in tropical forests and the trees usually have large boles, each yielding a significant quantity of high grade timber.
Density - 740kg/m3 Hardness - 1,320lbf Botanical name - Qualea Spp. Origin - Bolivia Wood Type - Tropical Hardwood
Mandioquiera is the second species stocked by Silva Timber that has been identified by the IWPA, WWF and other international bodies as being a lesser known species that has both the physical properties and availability to be of very good potential in the world market.
This economical species has class 3 durability (according to TRADA), a pleasing light brown appearance, good dimensional stability and full FSC certification. At less than half the price of Ipe, Mandioquiera represents excellent value for money.