The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association is dedicated to preserving and protecting America's forestlands, while providing the forest products critical to the nation's well-being. MFMA and its members are committed to providing the highest standards of quality available from America's forests.
 

Are we running out of hardwoods?

  • There are 737 million acres of forests in the U.S., one-third of the nation.
  • Every year the forest industry, together with federal and state forest agencies, plants more than 1.5 billion trees.
  • Forest Statistics of the United States, 2002, shows that the U.S. grows six times more hardwoods than are harvested each year.
  • Hardwoods have increased in every region of the U.S.
  • Wood is the only natural resource on Earth that is at once renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and reusable. The energy required to grow our timber supply is free. It comes from the sun.
  • More than 1,750,000 Americans are employed in the forest products industry. Many millions more employed in the home construction, home furnishing, transportation and heavy equipment industries owe their jobs to this one basic industry that converts harvested timber to finished products.

* This information was provided by the Evergreen Magazine and NHLA's Forest Resource Fact Book.
 

Wheels Come Off The Bamboo Cart, Study Finds Bamboo Isn't All That "GREEN"


STUDY: BAMBOO ISN'T REALLY ALL THAT GREEN

Bamboo, used for more than 5,000 years as building material across the world, has come into vogue the last two decades as a pro-environment floor covering.

Is it, though? A STUDY RELEASED BY RESEARCH FIRM DOVETAIL PARTNERS INC. revisited the theory and concluded that bamboo is not environmentally superior to wood. But, as the authors said, it's hard to “get the green genie back in its bottle.”

The narrative that bamboo was inherently better than wood products was spread by entrepreneuring manufacturers in China looking to export their goods. When bamboo first appeared on the global market in the early 1990s, despite it being easy on the eye, it just wasn't moving. It wasn't a material for floors— Americans recognized bamboo as the material of their grandfather's fishing pole, or the numerous imported backscratchers and chopsticks. So those manufacturers decided to shift that perception, and looked at the environmentalist movement for inspiration, the study said.

It took a while, but then in 2002, the United States Green Building Council designated bamboo an environmentally preferable material in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 2.1 standard. Acceptance, the study says, was based on the belief that bamboo's ability to regenerate rapidly—less than 10 years—made it superior to products from wood that renew slower. A rapid rise in Chinese bamboo flooring production followed the USGBC's designation. Only a handful of U.S. bamboo suppliers existed in the late 1990s. There were 200 by 2005.

The USGBC's LEED version 4, introduced this fall, no longer affords bamboo the same environmentally-desirable qualities it used to. The new guidelines should make bamboo products, including bamboo flooring, more difficult to promote as environmentally preferred materials.

But from 2002 through the recent change in the LEED standard, media spread—"without question"—the material’s regeneration capability, as well as an inaccurate factoid that there was a large supply of bamboo, more than 1.6 million square miles, growing in China, most of it under government management.

The study cites sources that say these assumptions are misleading at best and patently false at worst.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported in 2010 that China's bamboo resource was equal to 14.1 million acres, just over 22,000 square miles, or 1/72 of the 1.6 million square miles figure spread by certain media.

In fact, the rise in bamboo production has come with environmental harm, the Dovetail study says, including:
  • Over-harvesting and, because one species of bamboo in particular is favored, monoculture plantations, encouraged by the authorities and financial gain
  • Other types of forests have been clear-cut to make way for bamboo plantations
  • Because it grows fast, bamboo demands a lot of nutrients, and requires fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides whereas maple needs none

However, bamboo's social benefits are many, the study says. Increased production has reduced poverty and swelled household incomes. Planting bamboo on terraced slopes once used for agricultural production causes less runoff and erosion.

The bottom line, the study says, is that those benefits come at a cost when bamboo forests are not managed properly, and ultimately "should never be designated as environmentally preferable materials without at the very least" carefully judging its environmental impact throughout the supply chain.
Back to top