How much ancient forest do you have in your home?

Feature story - 18 August, 2004
Are you sleeping on illegal Okoumé trees from the Congo? Is your kitchen table made from wood which has started social conflict in a distant African country? Are you literally flushing an ancient forest down the toilet? Check out our interactive Forest House to see exactly where your household goods come from and the forest-friendly alternatives.

The Forest House - an interactive guide to the wood in your home

The Earth's ancient forests are unique, centuries old regions that support countless plant and animal species as well as native communities.

But they are rapidly vanishing as the demand for wood and paper grows. In fact, only 20 percent of the world's ancient forests remain - a very scary statistic.

Our comfy houses are contributing to the problem - in Europe, 50 percent of the tropical wood used in our furniture, doors and window frames is logged illegally, often from irresponsibly managed ancient forests. This wood often fuels corruption and social conflict and destroys the homes of endangered or undiscovered species.

But how do you know what wood you should and shouldn't buy? Can the same type of wood be both "good" and "bad" depending on where it comes from? And just how do you tell your Maple from your Merbau and your Birch from Bangkiria?

Our interactive Forest House is a room-by-room (and garden) guide to wood in household products, featuring everything from flowerboxes to guitars. You can also learn exactly why wood is "good" or "bad" and print out our one-pager to stick on the fridge and check before you make that trip to IKEA.

The Forest House also lets you search by product, so if you're on the lookout for a new hatstand or toilet seat, you'll know you should give teak a miss.

In general, the safest wood is always Forest Stewardship Council™(FSC®) certified. This means that the wood is from a sustainably managed forest and that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected during the logging process. Some homeware stores such as IKEA and Home Depot (in the US) have made commitments to only source FSC® certified wood for their products.

Read more

Check out the Forest House.

The Forest Stewardship Council™.

Go Ancient Forest Friendly - our consumer guide to recycled paper.

Become a forest guardian.

Join Greenpeace.

The information in the Forest House interactive website is based on research of wood imports into the Netherlands. However, different countries source wood products from different forests around the world. The information in this website may therefore not necessarily apply to all other countries around the world, including your own.

To be absolutely sure that the wood and paper products in your home are not contributing to the destruction of the worlds ancient forests, always insist on recycled and Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC®)-certified products.