In today’s world, sustainability is absolutely critical in all forms of building and manufacturing. Protecting and preserving the environment are essential steps as our cities, homes, and economies continue to expand.
This is why the chain of custody for sustainable resources was established. The chain of custody dramatically improves industry standards for harvesting, manufacturing, distributing, and using natural resources such as lumber. This is critical for all natural resources, but particularly so for tropical hardwoods.
In recent years, the stability of our rainforests has become a major concern for people both inside and outside the industry. Deforestation can devastate natural habitats for many types of life, in addition to causing large-scale environmental damage.
The chain of custody seeks to both reduce environmental damage and increase awareness of sustainable lumber harvesting practices. This applies to every member of the chain of use for lumber: harvesters, manufacturers, transporters, dealers, and contractors alike. It is an intricate process in which all parties work together to ensure responsible, sustainable, and ethical practices. When using natural resources like tropical hardwood, sustainability must be a priority.
The Chain of Custody: Sustainable Development in Architecture
The chain of custody aims to document every step in the process of harvesting and using sustainable hardwoods. In order to meet all standards of certification, every step in the chain must be followed properly. At Black Label, these steps are crucially important to our ethos and our practices. Here are some of the key steps Black Label follows in the architectural chain of custody.
Perhaps the most important step in the chain of custody for sustainable hardwoods is forest management. This step requires its own chain of assessments and calculations to ensure safe and sustainable wood harvesting. In the United States, organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council oversee forest management and award Chain of Custody certification to compliant companies and contractors.
Black Label’s first step in this process, the foundation of the entire chain of custody, is the forest management plan. This starts with an assessment of all varieties of life inhabiting the specific area of the forest. This includes not just the trees being harvested, but all other plants and animals in the surrounding environment. Our goal is to minimize the impact on the local environment as much as possible.
Following this assessment, a careful harvesting plan is laid out. These plans are carried out with the long-term stability of the forest’s life cycle in mind. In this system, Black Label divides the forest into equal segments, typically measuring one hectare each. In each harvesting cycle (one year), only three to five trees will be harvested per hectare. Only the tallest and oldest trees are chosen for harvesting each year. In turn, this allows the younger trees to receive more sunlight, grow, and breathe new life into the environment.
Meanwhile, the harvesters cycle through different hectares for each harvesting cycle. This means it will be many years before we return to the same area of the forest to harvest again. In that time, the forest will continue to grow and thrive.
Wood Treatment and Commercialization
After wood has been harvested according to the forest management plan, Black Label prepares our lumber for commercialization. This is also a multifaceted process. It involves treating the wood to ensure ideal quality, tagging every piece of lumber, and receiving approval from government authorities.
The purpose of tagging lumber is to provide a tracking label to show where and when each tree was harvested. This is an important step Black Label takes to ensure transparency throughout the entire chain of custody. By documenting responsible harvesting practices, all transporters and contractors can be assured that they are using sustainable hardwoods.
During the commercialization process, the wood will also be cut into its commercial shape and size. This, again, ensures quality and sustainable management for every piece of lumber harvested. Wood drying is also important to make sure that each piece of lumber is as hard and stable as can be.
Another crucial document for this step is the selling contract. This contract is essential for anyone who buys lumber directly from the harvester. The contract documents the following:
- Species of tree
- How much lumber is being purchased
- Delivery specification
- Type of business the lumber is being sold to
This, again, is done to ensure transparency and responsible handling of all lumber products.
Shipment and Transportation
The transportation process, again, relies on documentation and transparency. At Black Label, this process is focused on running multiple checks to assure that all steps have been followed. It is also in place to ensure that everything has been properly documented. All relevant government authorities will need to approve lumber for shipment before it can be transported. Additionally, Black Label hires a third-party agency to perform an additional check on their products before shipment.
The final step in the chain of custody is application. After the lumber has been bought and shipped to its destination, it is in the hands of contractors or builders. Each previous step is essential for clients, to preserve their trust in the sustainable management of tropical hardwoods. The final step merely ensures that the lumber is put to its intended use and not wasted.
Forest management plans provide a specified amount of tropical hardwoods each year. While this is a natural and renewable resource, its annual quantity is finite. It is the responsibility of contractors and their clients to make sure that all lumber is used responsibly.
Black Label’s Sustainable Building Practices
At Black Label, the chain of custody is something we take very seriously. In fact, Black Label was recently voted the Popular Choice Winner in Architizer’s 2022 A+ Product Awards. This is a great honor that Black Label has worked very hard to achieve.
All Black Label lumber is sourced from carefully managed areas devoted to a strict forest management plan. Our commitment to the chain of custody helps to protect the forests our lumber is harvested from. This, in turn, ensures that high-quality lumber can continue to be harvested for many years to come. This process also guarantees that the lumber can be harvested and cause no further damage to the environment.
Sustainable management of natural resources is a crucial next step for our society in the decades to come. At Black Label, this principle is at the core of everything we do.