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Weyerhaeuser Sawmills Offer PEFC Certified Plantation-Grown Wood

Lyptus-medPopular for their beauty and resilience, tropical hardwoods are in high demand. Yet their use raises very real issues about sustainability, not least because of the length of time the trees take to mature, concerns about unsustainable practices and illegal logging. Now, international forestry products company, Weyerhaeuser, offers a truly sustainable alternative in the form of PEFC-certified plantation-grown Lyptus® wood.

Demand for hardwoods has been steadily increasing over the last two decades, driven by emerging economies in Asia and South America and growing global consumerism. As demand has gone up, so too have concerns about its sustainability and growing environmental impacts.

Conscious of the challenges posed by growing demand for tropical hardwoods, international forest products company Weyerhaeuser joined forces with Brazilian partner Aracruz (now Fibria) to form Aracruz Produtos de Madeira S.A., to produce a sustainable, plantation-grown product with many of the advantages of tropical hardwoods, but with careful attention to minimizing their shortcomings. The result is Lyptus® timber.

Lyptus® is a naturally-occurring hybrid of two species of Eucalyptus tree, Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla. Similar in appearance to many species of tropical hardwoods, Lyptus® also shares many of their physical attributes, including durability and good resistance to the elements, making it good for cabinet making, joinery, construction and outdoor uses such as decking. Crucially, the trees reach maturity in an average of 14-16 years compared to the 60-plus years that it takes for many hardwoods like mahogany and oak to mature. Lyptus forests are 11 times more productive than unmanaged temperate forests and can produce up to 30 times the volume of lumber per hectare per year. Once harvested, the Lyptus® lumber and decking are produced by the Aracruz Produtos de Madeira S.A. (APM) sawmill. Weyerhaeuser became a majority shareholder in the mill in 2004 and has since invested in the management of the mill and in helping to improve the product.

First developed by Aracruz (now Fibria) in 1997 and tested in several markets, Lyptus ® is today grown in plantations situated near the east coast of Brazil. The plantations cover an area of approximately 400,000 hectares. Lyptus has been designed to be environmentally-friendly throughout the value chain, from the planting to the harvesting, processing and distribution. One of the particularities of these plantations is their location in an area once densely covered by Native Atlantic Coastal Forests. Decades of unsustainable forestry practices have served to deplete the natural forest. As part of efforts to enhance and restore the native ecosystems, the plantations include 'set asides' of native forest species. Thus, out of the 400,000 hectares, 260,000 hectares are planted with Eucalyptus and the remaining 140,000 are planted with native forest species. Thanks to this, the plantations are also helping to restore the native forest.

The operation also supports local livelihoods. Fibria maintains its own eucalyptus seed banks and nurseries. Local communities help to raise seedlings that are then sold back to the plantations for planting. Similarly, every effort has been made to render the mill sustainable. Trees are converted to lumber and by-products. The mill uses the residuals in the boilers for heating the kilns and sells some to other companies who use it for biomass energy.

The Fibria plantations are certified to CERFLOR, the Brazilian national sustainable forestry standard which has been endorsed by PEFC-International, while the sawmill has achieved PEFC Chain of Custody certification.

While Lyptus® wood is gaining in popularity on its own merits, its certified status too is yielding benefits. Certification offers assurances that the wood is from sustainably managed sources. Thanks to its unique properties and certified status, demand for Lyptus® is growing strongly in South America, North America and Europe. It is today also increasingly recognized by public procurement policies. Distributed in the UK by WoodlinkUK, its appeal was further confirmed at this year's Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in London, where it was a key feature of the 'Monaco Garden', one of this year's Gold Medal Winners. The garden's eye-catching Lyptus® wood decking proved a particular hit with the judges and visiting public alike.

 

Further Information

More information:

Weyerhauser_Sawmills_1.pdf (371.97 kB)