Garden furniture importers hailed as greenest in sector

The garden furniture industry is ethically sound, the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) has said, after a survey by conservation charity WWF found widespread ignorance among the public about timber sources.

LOFA secretary Richard Plowman said: "The LOFA has had in place for many years a policy that all timber should come from certified sources. Most LOFA members supply timber products with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation, or similar schemes."

The survey of more than 1,000 adults was carried out as part of the WWF's What Wood You Choose? campaign, a two-year EU-funded project. It revealed widespread public ignorance about the source of timber products, such as bed bases, flooring and garden chairs, compared with their awareness of sustainable fish stocks and Fairtrade coffee. Half of those surveyed said they "presumed that buying in the UK meant the product was from a legal source".

Plowman added: "The LOFA has also spent three years developing the Made Aware scheme, using environmental experts to alert members of the need to gain a full understanding of the whole product story."

The WWF said £700m a year was spent by UK shoppers on products made from illegally sourced wood. The charity added that the UK was now the world's fourth largest importer of illegally logged or traded timber and wood products, after China, USA and Japan.

The WWF estimated in 2007 that 3.2 million cubic metres of illegal timber were imported to the UK, out of the total 39.5 million cubic metres of timber brought into the country each year. Greenpeace has also complained about wood sourced from Burma.

Meanwhile, DIY retailer B&Q recently announced that all its tropical plywood is now certified, while high-street retailer Argos has launched an FSC-certified kitchen range. The Garden Centre Group dropped non-FSC wood in 2005.

Legislation is due to come into force in 2012 after the EU approved a ban on the import of illegal forest products, this summer. Companies will have to provide information about the origin of the wood they use and its legality.


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