Anigre
Anigre

NEW YORK CITY - Woodworkers may be surprised to learn that a number of familiar woods that are popularly used, including Anigre, Ipe, and Cocobolo, also rank high among endangered wood species.

Materials and design expert Grace Jeffers previewed a working list last month at NeoCon 2016 in Chicago, where she presented Global Wood 101 to architects and designers attending the show. In that presentation, Jeffers detailed new regulations worldwide will begin cracking down on the purchase and export of threatened, endangered, and illegally sourced wood. The challenge for architectural designers and their woodworking contractors, is that there is no single official reference for what constitutes endangered wood.

The Lacey Act, the U.S. law that protects endangered plants and animals, relies on regulators in other countries to determine what species are endangered.

For woodworkers, and particularly for architectural millworkers and their clients, “Not knowing the facts and legal issues can cause unexpected liabilities for designers, specifiers, and for wood manufacturers anywhere along the supply chain,” says Jeffers. “Lacey Act protections of endangered and non-legal wood species rely on regulators in wood exporting countries to make the call on whether or not a wood is endangered.”

Each government, in turn, may rely on a different reference. Regardless, though, local governments have the final say, according to Jeffers. Under terms of the Lacey Act, U.S. regulators are bound to uphold the rules adopted by countries sourcing various wood species.

In researching her NeoCon 2016 presentation, Jeffers says she was surprised to learn that there is no single accepted reference for endangered and protect wood. Instead, countries around the world use several sources, primarily the CITES Appendix II, and the IUCN Red List. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Created in 1948, IUCN is an environmental network of more than 1,300 Member organizations and16,000 experts. Information was also drawn from www.wood-database.com

Combining these criteria, along with harvesting patterns for various species in their home countries, Jeffers has compiled the following list of the 10 most endangered species, along with two more species that appear to be severely threatened.  

AFROMOSIA/AFRICAN TEAK Pericopsis elata  From West Africa, used for boatbuilding, flooring and furniture; light to medium brown color.

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN Red List: Listed as endangered; RainforestRelief.org: On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

ANIGRE Pouteria spp Africa; used for veneer, plywood and interior furniture; light colored, highly figured

Sustainability Status: “Anigre is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but some species are reported by the IUCN as being conservation dependent. Cessation of any current conservation programs would likely result in a vulnerable or endangered Red List.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN Red List:  Found 119 species of Pouteria—31% are listed as either endangered or critically endangered, but another 60% of the species are vulnerable.  Data indicates that it needs updating, so numbers could be worse. RainforestRelief.org: Not listed as coming from an endangered forest.

BLACK EBONY/GABOON EBONY Diaspyros crassiflora West Africa, India and Sri Lanka; used for musical instruments; dark brown to black.  Sustainability Status: This wood species is in CITES Appendix II (for Diospyros species from Madagascar), and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by exploitation.” - Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN Red List:  Listed as endangered. The species Diaspyros mun from Vietnam is listed as critically endangered.  RainforestRelief.org: On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

COCOBOLO Dalbergia retusa, Rosewood family Central America, used for fine furniture; red to dark red in color.

Sustainability Status:  “This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN RED LIST:  Listed as vulnerable. RainforestRelief.org:  On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

HONDURAN MAHOGANY Swietenia macrophylla  Southern Mexico/Central America, used for furniture, cabinetry, veneer, boatbuilding; light to medium brown.

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN RED LIST:  Lists 3 species of Swietenia—2 are vulnerable, 1 is endangered. RainforestRelief.org:  On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

IPE/BRAZILIAN WALNUT Handroanthus spp Tropical Americas, used for flooring, decking, exterior lumber, veneer; dark to medium brown.

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, Ipe species grow in very low densities, with mature trees only occurring once per 300,000 to 1,000,000 square feet (3 to 10 hectares) of forest area. This necessitates the clearing of large sections of rainforest trees (most of which are of little commercial value). Though uncommon, certified sources of Ipe are available.” – Wood-Database.com

 Other References: IUCN Red List: Not found on this list. RainforestRelief.org:  On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests.”

IROKO Milicia excels Tropical Africa, used for veneer, flooring, furniture, cabinetry; light brown.

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: RainforestRelief.org: On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests.”

LAUAN (aka Meranti) Shorea spp Southeast Asia; used for plywood, door skins, wall paneling, scenery

Sustainability Status: “Meranti is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but many species in the Shorea genus are on the IUCN Red List. The majority of Shorea species are listed as being critically endangered due to a population reduction of over 80% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation. Sustainable/certified sources of Meranti are also available.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN Red List: 37 out of 59 Shorea/Meranti species listed by IUCN are critically endangered; 18 out of 59 are endangered, leaving only 4 species at low risk. RainforestRelief.org:  On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

RAMIN Gonystylus spp Southeast Asia, used for furniture, cabinetry, veneer, flooring, plywood, utility lumber; light yellow.

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: RainforestRelief.org. On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

SATINWOOD (East and West Indian varieties) Chloroxylon swietenia; Zanthoxylum flavum Caribbean, India, used for veneer and fine furniture; light tan to gold.

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: RainforestRelief.org:  Not listed as coming from an endangered forest.

WENGE Millettia laurentii Central Africa, used for veneer, furniture, paneling; dark brown color—often a substitute for ebony.  

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: IUCN Red List:  Listed as endangered.  RainforestRelief.org:  On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

ZEBRAWOOD Microberlinia brazzavillensis  West Africa, used for veneer and furniture; highly patterned—striped

Sustainability Status: “This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range. (A closely-related, lesser-used species in Cameroon, Microberlinia bisulcata, is also listed as critically endangered.)” – Wood-Database.com

Other References: RainforestRelief.org:  On the list as coming from “Tropical Endangered Rainforests”

Jeffers places two other species on the short list to join these 10 most-endangered species, says Jeffers. These are Brazilian Rosewood Dalbergia negra and Sapele Entandrophragma cylindricum owing to high levels of harvesting recently. Both are on the IUCN Red List, but are on the less-threatened CITES Appendix I.