If anything is clear about the issues surrounding Genuine Mahogany, it’s that something has to give. While change is needed, not everyone agrees about what, exactly, needs to change. Not only short-term impact, but long-term effects of proposed solutions, need to be considered. Each affects Mahogany forests, sawmills, and regulatory agencies, as well as lumber wholesalers and customers in a unique way.
Here’s our take.
Long-Term Effects of Lowering (Personal) Standards
As mentioned in an earlier article, most Americans would do well to lower expectations of having A grade lumber all the time. We tend to feel the same way about extra-wide, extra-long boards, going with trends or North American standards even when they don’t make sense for a particular project. If we actually took that idea to heart, not only would we reduce waste and encourage health of both forests and the lumber industry, but we’d also reduce the temptation moving forward for artificially inflated grading, which would hurt our chances of getting defect-free lumber when our applications truly require it.
Long-Term Effects of Implementing NHLA Standards
While many lumber customers would do well to consider whether their applications truly require FAS Genuine Mahogany, artificially inflating the grades by implementing NHLA standards would be, at best, misleading. At worst, it would be devastating to the Mahogany market. Once the grading system no longer helps customers determine whether the lumber is suitable for their applications, those customers will be forced to look at alternative species, instead.
Customers will probably resent being misled, especially when they realize whose idea it was to make the change. You’ve probably already guessed it, by now: The very same NGOs involved in conservation efforts, monopolies, and the shift from sawing for quality to sawing for quantity. If they can get just as much money for a lesser grade board as a higher grade board, and they can get more boards out of a log by sawing for quantity, their bottom line will benefit. That’s not just cynicism speaking: It’s reality.
Hoped-For Results and Short-Term Solutions
At the same token, if the NGOs don’t get their way and NHLA guidelines are not applied to Genuine Mahogany, they’ll be forced to require a return to sawing for quality, not quantity, and both Mahogany customers and Mahogany forests would be rewarded. While we wait with bated breath to find out how the industry will shift, many builders who were once die-hard Genuine Mahogany customers are looking toward alternative species readily available with high quality and reasonable prices.
The shortage of Genuine Mahogany and the species’ questionable future makes considering African tropical hardwoods a necessity for many. The good news is that African Mahogany and other African hardwoods are in plentiful supply.