As the furniture industry joins the fight for a sustainable planet, the world’s forests may be the only weapons we need. Forests are the lungs of the planet, providing oxygen while reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Woodlands are places of great biodiversity, protecting river basins and enabling wildlife to flourish. Sustainable forestry can even boost local economies, providing disenfranchised communities with the materials, jobs and resources they need to survive.
Although many in our industry are taking a responsible approach, the deforestation associated with manufacturing is threatening the ecological balance. The consequences of deforestation are inspiring better management of wood materials, but few manufacturers are replenishing the resources they consume. That’s why Green are replanting the trees we harvest to make our products, planting one tree for every metre of seating, and every Leaf Lamp, we produce. We established our first forest in 2008, planting 1,000 birch saplings near our production workshop in southern Sweden. Five years later, we established a second forest nearby, planting 500 cherry trees and 400 maples, then added another 1,000 birch saplings in 2016.
Joakim Lundgren, Head of Sustainability at Green
Today, Green is embarking on another groundbreaking initiative: we’re planting trees in places where they matter most. ‘Replanting the trees we use in production makes sure that we maintain a renewable resource,’ says Joakim Lundgren, Head of Sustainability at Green. ‘But we’re also committed to making sure that the global amount of forestry doesn't diminish, so we’re looking for ways to increase it. This is why we’ve decided to plant a forest in Colombia, contributing to a project that protects river basins, encourages natural habitats and produces the life-giving oxygen needed to sustain them.’
Concerns about the deforestation of South American rainforests led Green to Colombia, where some of the most bio-diverse and complex forests in the world once flourished. Green established a partnership with Hacienda La Tentación, a privately-owned agroforestry plantation committed to reforesting the land and protecting nearby waterways. The plantation employs around 50 families and plays an active role in enriching the local community of Isaza, Caldas as a whole.
Hacienda La Tentación has recently allocated 120 hectares to reforestation. Green is financing a plantation of deep-rooted tree species, such as Colombian mahogany, rosy trumpet and princewood, varieties that will increase genetic variation without competing for the topsoil water needed by grasses and shrubs. These species provide permanent shade for the ground beneath them, filtering carbon particles out of the air and producing oxygen for the agroforestry ecosystems beginning to emerge. Rivers and wetlands irrigate the reforestation zone, where deep tree roots are needed to prevent the soil from eroding into the waterways after heavy tropical rains. They prevent the heavy soil run-off that can contaminate freshwater resources and deprive local communities of clean water.
The reforestation initiative at Hacienda La Tentación was co-founded by Gabriela Alvarez, who has a background in development economics. ‘Green’s participation in the venture is a catalyst in the development of a thriving environmentally and socially responsible industry,’ she says. ‘The trees planted by Green will benefit farm workers, local communities and the global ecosystem.’ When mature, the timber from Green’s forest will be harvested sustainably and prepared for manufacturing under controlled conditions.
Around 12 billion trees are planted each year, forming a value chain that starts with seedlings and ends with a staggering 985,000,000 tons of raw material. Green’s seedlings are germinated in December and January, timed for planting in April or May to avoid Colombia’s rainy and dry seasons. The seedlings are nurtured in the greenhouse for three to four months, taking care to ensure that they will be hardy enough to withstand Colombia’s harsh equatorial climate when planted.
The initial group of 10 000 trees Green planted were dedicated to reforestation and the protection of waterways, which will have significant impact on forest ecologies, water management and the potential for biodiversity. All seedlings will be individually tagged with a barcode and a GPS location, and subsequently geo-tagged and scanned as soon as they are planted. The geo-tagging system makes it possible to follow their growth on googleearth.com, where we can monitor their impact on the local environment at any time.
Synthetic materials come and go, but the beauty of wood continues to endure. ‘Wood is a fantastic material that will always inspire,’ says Joakim Lundgren. ‘I think a lot of people can share stories about running across scalding hot sand on the beach to reach a wooden walkway that feels so much cooler. Or remember hopping barefoot over cold floor tiles to stand on a warm wooden floor. No matter if it's hot or cold, wood always feels good.’
It’s stories like these that Green are bringing to Hacienda La Tentación, where our contribution to reforestation will touch the lives of the farmers, their families and the communities around the river basin that rely on clean water. We’ll plant at least 5,000 more trees in the near future, creating a crop with potential to sustain whole ecosystems and the individuals who live nearby. As our products bring the beauty of wood to buildings around the world, we’re letting trees tell our story. And when trees are nurtured and protected, there’s always a happy ending to share.
Green’s forest at Hacienda la Tentación was sown with 5,000 seedlings from native Central and South American species threatened by deforestation. We chose three species that can rebuild whole ecosystems and sustain them for years to come.
• Rosy trumpet (Tabebuia rosea) is a neo-tropical tree so hardy that it often survives heavy deforestation.
• Colombian mahogany (Cariniana pyriformis) has the strength to withstand storms, tropical winds and drought.
• Princewood (Cordia gerascanthus) provides a timber resource. Its bark is used in medicines and health tonics.
Who? Established as a cocoa plantation, the farm is a ‘purpose and profit’ enterprise promoting women’s roles and community engagement.
What? Committed to producing top-quality cocoa, the plantation is diversifying to protect the environment and support local communities.
Where? In the La Dorada region located in Colombia’s Caldas province. The region lies at the foot of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.
Why? Green is replenishing timber resources in an area threatened by deforestation by replanting the trees harvested for our products.