How to identify wood products that are sustainably sourced

08 April 2024

Emma Lucey

When shopping for wood furniture, wooden utensils or even products made from paper – like books, it’s important to question whether it comes from a sustainable source. It’s not just about buying a beautiful wooden piece, but ensuring that piece helps protect the forests of the world and the human and animal communities that rely on them.

First off, why does it matter? Purchasing sustainably sourced wood products supports responsible forest management, combats deforestation and protects biodiversity. Certification is key here, as it indicates whether the wood used to create a product has been harvested from a sustainably managed forest where harvested trees are regrown or replanted. Luckily, there a few simple indicators to look out for when searching for the perfect wooden cutting board or a stylish set of deck chairs to ensure you’re buying responsible wood products.   

In Australia, forest managers and owners certify their forest either under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification or the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme. Wood and wood-based products sourced from certified forests are tracked through the supply chain using chain-of-custody certification provided by both forest certification schemes.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Forest Stewardship Council® (@fsc_anz)

FSC certification assures extensive biodiversity protections and protection of workers' rights while also requiring companies that use the FSC label to be truthful and clear about sustainability claims, guarding against greenwashing and upholding integrity. Typically, FSC-certified products are easy to identify – you've probably seen the logo before or own something at home that features it (it’s even on clothing or other everyday items such as tissues). Unlabelled products can be determined FSC-certified by sourcing from a certified supplier or by checking for a valid certificate using the online database.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Responsible Wood (@responsiblewood)

Organisations certified under the Responsible Wood Certification ensure sustainable forestry practices in Australia while responsibly harvesting and managing forest products for the long term. Responsible Wood is a not-for-profit and is the Australian body recognised under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The PEFC label is another label that is globally recognised and one to look out for. To verify if a company or product is Responsible Wood certified, they also have a searchable database. 

If you’re still unsure of a wood products origin or certification, ask the brand directly before purchase. Always remember that sourcing something second-hand is another option that reduces consumption of new products and diverts items from landfill. And that reduces our consumption of water, energy, fuel, natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions! 

  Products made from recycled or reclaimed wood also promotes resource conservation. Recycled wood is salvaged from demolished houses, old buildings, sheds, factories, warehouses, wharves, boats and other wood products. It is available from specialist wood suppliers, second-hand building material outlets, larger demolition companies and demolition sites. The FSC also has a ‘recycled’ label to keep an eye out for when buying wood products.  

  Trees release oxygen as they grow, absorb carbon dioxide and retain carbon after harvest for the life of the product. If you’re able to source wood that has been certified, you’re choosing a material that is not only renewable, but has had a positive impact on the environment during its production (as the tree grows), unlike many other materials such as concrete or plastic. Next time you shop, keep an eye out for certified wood logos and rest assured you’re shopping sustainably.  

Photo of the author: Emma Lucey
Emma Lucey

Emma brings experience in digital media and communications with a background in several industries such as tourism and hospitality. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2022, Emma spent 5 years living abroad in London & Amsterdam where she developed a greater interest in the environment and sustainability. Outside of work Emma enjoys gardening, camping and crocheting.

Recent Articles