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Tropical timber tied up in British red tape

Tropical timber tied up in British red tape

作者:邴锬  时间:2019-03-02 04:17:07  人气:

By OLIVER TICKELL A freeze on official lists of wood used in construction is preventing the building industry from switching to new hardwoods that can be harvested sustainably. As a result, damage to virgin rainforests, where many traditionally used hardwoods come from, is likely to continue for longer than necessary. In Britain, mechanical strength, durability and other properties of species of wood used in building are specified under the standard BS 1186. But because Britain is soon to adopt new European standards, no additions can be made to the BS 1186 list. The European standard is not expected to come into force until 1994. ‘This ridiculous red tape is in danger of undermining our efforts to get sustainably harvested timber on the market,’ says Chris Cox of the Ecological Trading Company, a wood importer. Timber buyers do not like to stick their necks out over a wood they do not know, says Charles Townsend of the merchant Milland Fine Timbers. ‘Getting the new species on the standards lists would definitely help persuade timber buyers to use them,’ he says. The problem came to light when architect Patrick Langlois, who is based in Abingdon, asked for the window and door frames of a house to be made of kamarere (Eucalyptus deglupta), a hardwood that grows in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. The National House Building Council, an industry regulatory body that issues 10-year guarantees on houses built by its members, said it could not provide its usual assurance for the house because kamarere is not listed under BS 1186. Peter Eddowes of Papua New Guinea’s forestry office supplied technical data on kamarere to the Building Research Establishment in Watford, which carries out testing on woods for the British Standards Institution. The BRE says it is satisfied with the data, but cannot add kamarere to the list. When the European standards come into force, the situation could become even worse, says Paul Sharphouse of the Timber Research and Development Association, who is Britain’s representative on the European standards working group. While Britain wants some 250 species to be covered by the new standard, other countries are lobbying for the list to be limited to 10 or 20 main species. ‘It’s all rather sad,’ says John Stubbs of the BSI. He says the debate over the list is beyond the institute’s control: ‘It’s a very useful list,