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The use of sustainable wood
Monkey Pod - Samanea saman (Jacq.) Merr.
AKA: FABACEAE (BEAN FAMILY) Acacia, Koa, Rain Tree Monkey Pod (Rain Tree):
Rain tree (Samanea saman) is easily recognized by its characteristic umbrella-shaped canopy (see above). When grown in the open, the tree usually reaches 15 to 25 m (50 to 80 feet) in height with a canopy diameter wider than the tree is tall. Rain tree is most important in the Pacific as a shade tree on small farms, along roads, in parks and pastures.
The wood could be developed more widely as a commercial timber, comparing favorably to black walnut. Rain tree naturalizes freely almost everywhere it has been introduced and is considered an invasive pest in Vanuatu and Fiji. In many other places naturalized rain tree is not considered a problem but a useful wood source, as in Thailand.
In Thailand, Monkey Pod is mainly grown in the Northern provinces along the neighboring mountainous borders providing a bountiful yet limited (time wise to carve) source of larger wood for the carving industry. Harvested correctly the trunk is left in place and larger limbs are cut for use initially. Eventually the trunk is cut as it passes its best producing cycle. There are no lumber yards for this wood.
Once we receive orders we have trees cut that fit the size we need to use. The wood must be rough cut and carved within several weeks. Otherwise the wood dries out, becomes stringy, and breaks up easily if carved too dry.
The sapwood is narrow and white to light cinnamon. The heartwood is straight or cross grained with a medium to coarse texture. The wood requires careful drying because of shrinkage and moderate to severe warp. Wide spacing facilitates rapid growth in trunk diameter. Wood from large branches can also be used. There is evidence that rain tree can grow too large to be utilized by the technology available in some locations (e.g., mills are too small to saw massive logs, etc.
Farmed Teak Wood From Thailand - Tectona Grandis
TEAK PLANTATION HARVESTING IN THAILAND Today the teak wood industry is thriving and controlled, not completely due to outside agencies. It is mainly to the Kings foresight and intervention along with the enforcement by the Royal Thai Forestry Department. Old large teak wood is of course still cut but in limited quantities. This is a natural function in good forestry management. In Thailand this is only done with and under the supervision of the Royal Forestry department. These logs are very expensive and auctioned off to lumber buyers several times a year. There are numerous products made from old branches harvested by hand also.
The majority of teak products are made from farmed teak. Since it is farmed the size in diameter is limited due to demand and growth cycles. The color is also lighter with variations of whitish wood to the teak or orange brown heart wood. With the application of a light coat of teak oil the wood is very beautiful in appearance and maintained properly will last for years.
Today there is a problem with the export of Burmese, Laos, and Thai farmed teak wood to Indonesia for their wood making industry since Indonesia has apparently stripped its producing capability.
Teak is one of the most valuable kinds of timber. It has long been one of Thailand's important exports. Because of heavy logging by big foreign owned companies in the last century the government of Thailand is now trying to restore the growth of teak wood by planting new trees everywhere possible. The FIO, a state enterprise for the utilization of forest resource, has many reforestation projects throughout Thailand. On the basis of the silvicultural system adopted by FIO, the teak rotation cycle last between 20-35 years.
In July 2001, FIO received "sustainable management" certification of two teak plantations from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FIO has plans to obtain certification for all its 134 tree plantations. The FSC-approved certification of the FIOs plantations would provide a lifeline to the struggling agency by assisting the sales of "certified" timber to markets in Europe and North America seeking timber from "sustainable" and "well-managed" sources.
The certification would also support the ongoing efforts of the agency to remake its image as a "sustainable" forest management agency. Therefore, when FSC provided certification, it undermined the whole of Thailand's environmental movement and the ongoing local processes for increased community control over forests. It renews the commercial influence on Thailand's forests so that these agencies can resume their logging practices.
Mango Wood - Mangifera Indica (there are 34 species)
Mango Wood comes from the same kind of tree (Mangifera spp.) as the popular tropical fruit. It is widespread around South East Asia - including Thailand - with the widest variety of species found in Malaysia. Mango trees in the wild "jungle mango" can reach a height of up to 60-80 feet with a trunk diameter of around 3 to 4 ft. The wood at the center of the tree - the heartwood - can be pinkish, light or dark brown, or golden with occasional dark streaks running through it. It has a relatively coarse interlocking grain and is fairly easy to work with, particularly when finishing and polishing. It withstands kiln drying very well, making it a fairly quick process to produce a workable piece of wood from a green log.
The use of mango wood as a raw material in the production of Thai handicrafts gained momentum relatively recently. The depletion of natural teak stocks in Thailand gave rise to a need for a suitable alternative and although softer than teak, mango wood was found to be easily carved and oiled as well as being attractive in its own right.
Mangos of many species are farmed in Thailand as it is a cultural staple crop for the nations food supply. Mango is used as a snack fresh dipped in dried chilies and sugar/salt, as a cooking ingredient, as a dessert with sticky rice and coconut milk, and as a dried export fruit.
As with all fruit trees there is an optimal life cycle for its fruit bearing years. Consequently the trees are replanted continuously and a supply of wood is generated mainly for the wood turning industry up North. Due to the tree type and life cycle most mango wood products are under 15 in diameter. A little known fact is that mango trees are not grown from seed but are grafts or cuttings. The fruit bearing capacity is severely diminished in a tree grown from its seed. Perhaps next we will find a use for the seed!