Vermont is the Green Mountain state and trust me, Vermonters are serious about forest conservation. If you live in New York or Boston or another metropolitan area you might be surprised though to learn that we have to fight hard every day to keep our forests clean, green and intact.
Dennis and I were at a meeting of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association last week and as always, forest conservation was high on the list of topics for discussion. Vermont furniture companies are working on creating a chain of custody for their furniture so customers will be able to trace it back from the furniture maker to the forest where it was sustainably harvested.
You may be thinking: “why do Vermonters think forest conservation is so important?” Well it’s not just because the Green Mountain Forest makes a $1 billion contribution to our economy. Or that the forest industry provides 9% of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales and employment for over 6000 Vermonters. It’s also that Vermonters love the wildlife and recreation the forest provides.
We see how forests are being decimated in tropical countries like Brazil, the DR Congo and Indonesia and we’re determined to do what we can to conserve forests (both our temperate forests and rainforests) for future generations. Here is just a short list of Vermont organizations working on the mission of forest conservation:
- The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
- The Vermont Woodlands Association
- The Vermont Sierra Club
- The Vermont Land Trust
- The Vermont Working Landscape Partnership
- Vermont Family Forests
- Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Another forest conservation group– one near to my heart, is the Vermont Center for Eco Studies. Researchers there are working to conserve habitat for our state’s migrating songbirds. As such their conservation efforts span both our temperate Vermont forests and the rainforest of the Dominican Republic where our state bird the Bicknell’s Thrush winters.
Our sustainable furniture company was founded in 2005 on a mission of forest conservation. I had been studying rainforest conservation for years and wanted to see if I could do something to help change this startling statistic:
Every second of every minute of every day…
We lose over 1 acre of rainforest. Permanently.
Several years prior to starting Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture I had formed a non-profit corporation with the same mission (rainforest conservation) but I was never really able to get the funding I needed to lift it off the ground. So our wood furniture company was built as a for-profit corporation to help accomplish the same goals.
It’s not always easy to explain why a Vermont based fine furniture company is so committed to rainforest conservation. When I saw this info-graphic, Forests and the Green Economy (courtesy of The Nature Conservancy) I thought it might help. Here are a few rainforest facts that might surprise you:
- More than half of the planet’s species live in the rainforest even though the rainforest only occupies about 2% of the earth’s surface
- Many of our favorite iconic species are critically endangered due to deforestation, including all species of big cats and all species of big apes
- An estimated 137 species of plants and animals are driven into extinction every day due to deforestation
- Rainforest deforestation contributes as much to global warming as the sum of all the cars, trains and planes in the world
- Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover <6%
- If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforests could be gone in < 40 years and once they’re gone, they are gone forever. Rainforests do not regenerate the way our Northern temperate forests do
The Nature Conservancy summarizes this and other compelling facts about the rainforest in their info-graphic. Along with the World Wildlife Fund they are among the world’s best hopes for saving the rainforest. Check out their info-graphic and learn about ways you can help everyday through your choices of food, paper, furniture, flooring and other forest products.
At Vermont Woods Studios we donate $1 for every sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project and run occasional benefits to support non-profits that work to save the rainforest and it’s inhabitants. Learn more about our work in the Mission section of our blog and website.
By Heather Barrett
We love wildlife here at Vermont Woods Studios. Forest conservation
is, afterall, a large part of our mission. So, if you're anything like us, we have an
exciting event for you to attend this weekend. Saturday, September 15, is the third annual
Vermont Wildlife Festival. This day-long event, put together by the Southern
Vermont Natural History Museum, is designed to "showcase the many ways
that we enjoy the outdoors in Vermont."
The day (10am-4pm) is packed full of events by over twenty different organizations. During the Vermont Wildlife Festival you will see live animals (including
raptors and a wolf), have the opportunity to go on a guided hike, a scavenger
hunt, interactive demonstrations, wilderness survival information, and much more. Not quite sold yet? What
if I told you that this event is FREE?
Still not 100% sold? Have I mentioned that this event will
be taking place right near the Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook? It is a
panoramic 100-mile breath-taking view. It is a must-see, and a perfect photo opportunity,
for both Vermonters and tourists alike.
Heather Barrett is a Marketing Assistant at Vermont Woods Studios, an online furniture gallery which showcases Vermont's finest wood furniture. Follow our blog to learn about Vermont fine furniture, Vermont happenings, our mission, and our team.
What's the most organic, eco-friendly raw material for furniture? I guess there are different opinions on this but you have to admit that wood is naturally green. It's sustainable, biodegradable and renewable.
The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) puts out a brochure periodically that reports statistics for the American hardwood industry. Are we harvesting our hardwoods sustainably in the USA?
According to NHLA the hardwood inventory in the USA has grown by 98% during the past 5 decades. I'd say that's pretty sustainable.
Here's another cool fact NHLA cites: Wood represents 47 percent of all raw materials used in the United States but the energy used to produce wood products (including furniture) accounts for just 4 percent of the energy used to make all manufactured materials. Wow! It makes sense though when you consider all the hard-core industrial processing that's required to make a piece of metal or plastic furniture, right?
At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture we specialize in organic, eco-friendly solid hardwood furniture that's made from local and regionally harvested wood. To help keep our forests healthy and sustainable, we're excited to be supporting the Vermont Council on Rural Development and their ambitious Vermont Working Landscape Partnership Program as part of our forest conservation mission.
I just have to throw in one last random but amazing reason why wood is the greenest raw material for furniture-making: the EPA estimates that each year our American forests remove the greenhouse gases emitted by 139,000,000 cars! You gotta love wood.
Every June 5 since 1972 has been designated by the United Nations as World Environment Day. The annual event is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental change.
This year's theme for WED is Forests: Nature at Your Service. As an organization that depends on wood as a natural resource, Vermont Woods Studios Furniture places forest conservation at the heart of our mission so we are pleased to support and celebrate this day.
Sometimes when I talk about forest conservation, I can see peoples' eyes glazing over, but when I revisit Forest Facts like these offered up on the WED website I remember the primary reason why we started Vermont Woods Studios in the first place:
- Forests cover 1/3 of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities
- 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods
- Forests play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide
- Forests feed our rivers and are essential to supplying the water for nearly 50% of our largest cities
- Forests create and maintain soil fertility; they help to regulate the often devastating impact of storms, floods and fires
- Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land, and are home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects
- Forests also provide shelter, jobs, security and cultural relevance for forest-dependent populations
- Forests are the green lungs of the earth, vital to the survival of people everywhere — all seven billion of us.
Today we honor many of our friends and colleagues at the organizations worldwide that work to protect the forests and the people and animals who call them home, including ForestEthics, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and Ecological Internet. I'm heading our for a walk in the woods this afternoon. I hope you'll have a chance to do the same very soon because when you do, I think maybe you'll feel the same way I do about Forest Conservation.
I'm trying not to feel too wounded. We got a call from World Wildlife Fund WWF today. I've been a contributing member and ardent promoter of their work since I graduated from college and got my first full time job in 1980. After 31 years of enthusiastic support, they called me today to tell me that I'm not allowed to mention their name on my Vermont Woods Studios Furniture website anymore.
See… we recently launched a Save the Tiger campaign to raise awareness of the fact that all species of tigers are endangered and some are on the brink of extinction. Their habitat is being destroyed and to some extent it's because corrupt timber conglomerates are clear-cutting the forests they live in and using the wood for cheap imported furniture and flooring that's sold in the US and Europe. We oppose that and so does WWF. We support their Save the Tiger fund and we encourage furniture shoppers to buy American furniture made from sustainably harvested American wood.
Well I guess they don't like their name being connected to a commercial venture. I understand their concern about the fact that there are dirt ball websites out there that might use their name dishonestly, but really. I asked WWF to spend 5 minutes on our website and tell me we're one of those guys. They agreed that our committment to conservation seems genuine but then noted that in order to be considered WWF partners and refer to them on your website, a minimum "6 figure donation" is required annually along with a long list of other things. Actually, I think we would be OK with the other requirements but $100,000 is equal to 1/6 of our total revenue (not profits) last year. So now I have to face the fact that I've been summarily rejected by my all time favorite charity– an organization that had a profound influence on the whole concept defining Vermont Woods Studios Furniture. How sad is that?
I'm going to finish crying in my beer tonight. Tomorrow I'll be over it and moved on to other issues. But tonight I can't help feeling a bit jaded about WWF and their corporate partnership program. What do you think?
We just renewed our annual membership with the World Wildlife Fund, one of my all time favorite charities. Our obvious link with WWF (panda.org) now, is through our mutual efforts in forest conservation, but I've been a WWF fan since log before Vermont Woods Studios was born. They've been one of the most effective major global players in conservation efforts supporting oceans, rivers, forests, endangered species and more for generations.
If you're looking for a special gift for someone who loves nature, check out World Wildlife Fund's gift and adoption programs. They make shopping easy, especially for the person who has everything.
I was just reading my monthly newsletter from the Vermont Woodlands Association and had to share a story with you. The VWA, by the way is made up of the finest people on earth as you will clearly see at the end of this post. Their mission is to:
"advocate for the management, sustainability, perpetuation, and
enjoyment of forests through the practice of excellent forestry that
employs highly integrated management practices that protect and
enhance both the tangible and intangible values of forests – including
clean air and water, forest products, wildlife habitat, biodiversity,
recreation, scenic beauty, and other resources – for this and future
There are lots of fascinating articles in the newsletter but this is the one I knew you would want to hear about:
Put Blodgett wrote a column about bears. He and his friend Ben Kilham, a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in bears were working with some orphaned cubs who hadn't had the benefit of being taught what to eat by their mother. Since cubs recognize suitable food by smell, Ben often chews up natural bear foods and then breathes into the nostrils of the cubs to train them on what plants and animals to eat. All fine if it's rasberries, but the cubs have to learn to eat worms and grubs too! THAT is dedication.
Thought you would want to know this in case you're ever thinking about becoming a bear rehabilitator
Part of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios is forest stewardship and a big part of that is protection of endangered species that call the forest their home. We have a particular soft spot for cats. Did you know that all of the worlds "big cats" are critically endangered? In the case of tigers, experts estimate there are as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Three subspecies have been driven to extinction in the past century alone.
One of our favorite non-profits, the World Wildlife Fund is trying to save the tiger. With the Chinese lunar calendar having just rolled us into the Year of the Tiger, they have developed a plan to secure a future for these magnificent big cats.
Check out Tx2. The goal is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. If you want to help, read more about it here and take action to save this iconic species of the forest.
If you haven't been able to watch Ken Burn's new film on America's National Parks, it's not too late. This is a six episode series and every nature lover will want to enjoy the spectacular scenery, interesting history and urgent call to action that Burns presents. At Vermont Woods Studios being a wood furniture maker, we're particularly interested in the issues of sustainable forestry in the national parks.
One of our favorite national parks mentioned in this film series is Sequoia National Forest. Sequoias are the largest trees ever to inhabit the earth, growing to heights of 300 feet and diameters of 30 feet! Their ages commonly range from 2,000 to 3,000 years. Some were 1000 years old during the time of Christ!
Although once widespread, giant sequoias now occur only in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California. If you have literally 2 minutes to spare, you can take action to protect the Giant Sequoias and other ancient forest in America. Visit Save America's Forests, click on Instant Letter and in 2 minutes or less you can send a letter to your representatives in Congress asking them to stop destructive forms of logging, such as clearcutting, and to protect ecologically important forest areas such as Ancient forests and roadless forests.
Then pat yourself on the back for doing an awesome job in protecting the environment and fighting global warming!