A hardwood floor is one of the most diverse and sought-after floors you can choose for your home or office. They were ubiquitous for decades. Now, there are many alternatives to hardwood floors. Many of these types of floors, such as vinyl, attempt to recreate the look and feel of hardwood. One of the reasons many people choose alternatives to hardwood is the effect on the environment. Trees are technically a renewable resource but they are not always harvested in a sustainable way. For example, a red oak can take about twenty years to reach maturity and forty years to reach its full height. So, if a company harvests red oak irresponsibly, they could deforest an entire region for decades. That’s not considered sustainable. Fortunately, there’s a way to know if your hardwood floor is sustainable.
Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international organization that sets standards for how to sustainably harvest forest products such as wood, sap, and plant matter. They also monitor different forests to gauge how they’re being treated. If you are looking for a hardwood floor that is sustainably source and eco-friendly, you should look for the Forest Stewardship Council seal.
How It Works
There are several different axes on which the Forest Stewardship Council analyzes harvesting. Red oak can take decades to grow to its full height. So, sustainably sourcing oak means that the company is cutting down trees in a way that actually encourages new growth. For example, an older tree that has grown to its full height will have a wide canopy that blocks out a lot of the light that would hit the forest floor. That will stunt the growth of newer, smaller trees. Therefore, cutting down trees with wide canopies can actually help new trees grow.
Furthermore, trees that have died or are dying can negatively affect the other trees. They can spread disease, encourage fungal growth, and even knock down healthier trees when they fall. Harvesting these doomed trees is a great way to improve the health of the forest.
Many companies often offset their tree harvesting as well. If a company harvests cherry wood from a forest, they might plant an equivalent number of trees in a different part of the forest. Alternately, they can buy offsets from other companies which means that a second company will plant trees to offset the trees they harvest.
These are a few of the ways that sustainable hardwoods are sourced; sustainability is one of the hottest trends in the 21st century.