At Vermont Woods Studios, we certainly have a passion and appreciation for high quality craftsmanship and woodworking, but, the truth is, Peggy founded this business out of a passion for forest conservation.
It was this one astounding statistic that really lit a fire under her in 2005:
Every second, an acre of rainforest is lost forever
Along with trees, some of our favorite iconic wildlife species that live in the rainforest are being lost. For example, all the great cats (lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, etc) are critically endangered as are all the great apes (gorillas, chimps, orangutans, etc).
Our planet is actually losing over 100 unique species of plants and animals every day. The cause is habitat destruction.
The global timber trade has been infiltrated by organized crime to the point where illegal wood (often clear cut from the rainforest) is pervasive throughout the imported wood furniture and flooring industry.
Much of it is accompanied by counterfeit documents labeling it as green certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
National Geographic published a report in 2014 on a UN study showing that the global environmental crime industry (with illegal logging being the primary component) has now surpassed the global drug trade in terms of estimated annual revenue.
Forests control water runoff, filter water, protect soil, cycle and store nutrients, and help regulate the climate. They’re a natural filtration system for our air and water.
Although the United States is adding to internal forest growth, our country contributes to deforestation by importing wood and wood products, much of which comes from the Amazon and the Boreal rainforests by way of China and Russia.
Global Furniture & Flooring Statistics
- Up to 90% of the imported furniture in the US today from Peru is made from wood that is illegally clear-cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests (World Economic Forum.)
- According to a Washington Post article, 70% of furniture sold in America is imported
- The environmental crime industry is worth an estimated ~$91-259B per year with illegal logging ranking high on the crime list due to illegal wood products mainly from China, India and Vietnam (UN Environment Programme.)
- About 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are a byproduct of cargo ships used to transport goods like lumber, furniture, and flooring around the world (International Council for Clean Transportation.)
- 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 (Rain-Tree Publishers.)
- More than 40% of Earth’s remaining rainforest is accounted for in the Amazon (Global Environment Facility.)
- The Amazon rainforest is the largest forest in the world, approximately equal to the size of the lower 48 United States (Global Forest Atlas.)
- Globally, 1/4 of all freshwater flows through the Amazon Basin (Amazon Aid Foundation.)
- The Amazon rainforest alone holds 48 billion tons of carbon dioxide in its trees (The Nature Conservancy.)
- Worldwide, forests cover 31% of our planet (Climate Institute.)
- Since 1990, we have lost over 501, 933 square miles of forests due to deforestation, which is equivalent to an area larger than South Africa (World Bank Blogs.)
- Global rainforest destruction continues to proceed at a rate of >1 acre per second. 60 seconds every minute. 60 minutes every hour, 24/7/365 (The World Counts.)
- That’s over 4000 football fields every hour of every hour day, 365 days/year. (The World Counts)
Climate Change & Illegal Logging
- As a result of the negative externalities of deforestation and land degradation, tropical forests now emit more carbon dioxide than they actively absorb from the atmosphere (Carbon Brief.)
- Every year, deforestation emits more greenhouse gas emissions than 85 million cars would over their entire lifetime (World Economic Forum.)
- Approximately 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation (Rainforest Alliance.)
- The tropical forests, which are being rapidly cut down hold 228-247 gigatons of carbon. (World Wildlife Foundation.)
- Tropical forests are capable of providing 23% of climate change relief but only receive 3% of climate mitigation funding (World Resource Institute.)
- If tropical forest destruction were a country, it would be the third-highest carbon dioxide emitter globally, after China and the United States ( World Economic Forum.)
Scary Stats About the Future of Rainforests
- The Siberian Tiger– the world’s largest cat- is literally on the brink of extinction with only about 400 individuals remaining in their natural habitat.
- Many of our favorite iconic species are critically endangered due to deforestation, including all species of big cats and all species of great apes (World Wildlife Foundation.)
- An estimated 137 species of plants and animals are driven into extinction every day due to deforestation (The Rainforest Action Network.)
- If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforests could be gone in < 40 years (The Guardian.)
- We may only have 10% of our rainforests left by 2030. (The World Counts.)
- 28,000 species of animals will become extinct in the next 25 years due to deforestation (One Tree Planted.)
If these statistics about how the U.S. furniture industry impacts climate change and deforestation around the world are concerning to you, make sure to buy 100% American made furniture, and only that made with domestic hardwoods.
To learn more about how we’re fighting against climate change and deforestation, read about how our business promotes sustainability.
- NatGeo: New UN Report Puts Staggering Dollar Figures on Environmental Crime Revenues (2014)
- The World Counts: Deforestation Facts & Statistics (2014)
- Washington Post: How Asian Furniture Manufacturers Avoid Tariffs Importing to the US (2011)
- Washington Post: Corruption Stains the Global Timber Trade, China & Russia to Blame (2007)
- Environmental Investigation Agency: Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and The World’s Last Siberian Tigers (2013)
- Business Insider: Organized Crime is Getting Rich by Cutting Down the Rainforests (2012)
- UCLA: Furniture from China contributes to deforestation in central Africa (2018)
- Yale: The Rosewood Trade: An Illicit Trail from Forest to Furniture (2019)
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