Ethically Harvested Tropical Hardwood Flooring
QSF was recently presented the opportunity to extend its reach - and expand our ability to source the finest grades of hardwoods - to include the Upper Amazon basin of Lorretto Province, Peru.
Rather than acquire production runs directly from a mill, we are now able to individually select the logs of our choosing directly from a licensed concession holder and have them locally milled under our supervision to meet our required standards. Among the many species from this region with suitable density and visual appeal suitable for a flooring application, the standout, in all categories of measurement is" Brosimum rubescens", locally known as Palisangre, and commonly referred to as Bloodwood. With a density much greater than teak, and a luster found in woods like Koa - Palisangre, true to its common name, exhibits a rich burgundy hue and retains its original color over the lifetime of the floor as opposed to the propensity to extreme darkening as with other reddish-toned woods such as North American Cherry or Brazilian Jatoba.
For these reasons we have initiated our line of tropical hardwood flooring with the introductory offering of the "Palisangre Herringbone Edition" custom engineered flooring. We operate in a joint-venture with Yacumama SA Ltd., who, has spent the past 20 years in the upper Peruvian Amazon engaged in grass-roots projects to protect habitat and preserve the traditions and culture of the indigenous populations located in some of the most remote environments on earth. Their commitment to the region is evidenced in a long record of endeavors which includes full and titled ownership of the largest private conservation preserve in the Peruvian Amazon, over 10,000 acres, (approx.10 sq. miles) comprising the entire watershed of the Rio Yarapa, the first river tributary flowing into the headwaters of the Rio Amazonas. This vast area of primary forest was sectioned from a tract of Federal Lands and was acquired directly from the Peruvian Government by the principle partners of Yacumama in the early 1990's, and since that time they have maintained close relations with various federal agencies and NGO's.
Yacumama has served as local hosts for the Smithsonian Institution EarthWatch program, as well as many other notable organizations - guest lecturer for FIU, WorldBank, and is a recognized private project by the Global Environmental Fund for sustainable eco tourism. (see www.yacumamalodge.com) In their efforts to assist the indigenous populations in remote areas they have built or expanded 6 schools, established a medical clinic and have hosted to date, over 18 years, 42 medical missions bringing doctors and nurses from the US to administer care in association with AmazonPromise, a private NGO whose leader was recognized as a CNN Hero in early 2010. It is only through the personal relationship between the principles of Yacumama and QSF that the idea emerged of assisting the latter in sourcing ethically harvested exotic Peruvian hardwoods in a conscientious and environmentally sound fashion.
It is only due to very recent advances in the practice and application of forest conservation guidelines by the international community and the Peruvian Government (effective law enforcement and penalties for poaching and extracting adolescent timber) that makes it possible for a verifyable ethical harvest of select trees to take place.
Two things make this possible - the passing of the Lacey Act, signaling the recognition of the need to regulate production and consumption of this renewable yet limited resource, and second, oddly enough, is technological - and that is the adoption by the Peruvian Forest Ministry of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to track from the source, logs from a particular concession from the stump, through the mill, and onto the shipping docks where the paperwork must match records and be attached to the bill of lading.
In areas designated for the select extraction of timber, concessions are granted to local individuals and mills for the lumber production. Once a concession is acquired the operator is required to have the concession surveyed, by an approved contractor, and using GPS, create a map indicating the species type, location, and trunk diameter of the trees to be harvested - after which an on-site review is made by the same contractor checking a number of stumps to ensure the designated trees were cut and replacement saplings were planted. With this inventory list, and its conversion into linear board feet, each concession holder is issued a "gia" - an official paper summarizing the number of board feet represented in the concession, and a paper which from then on must accompany the timber all along its way from the forest to the end user. ( "Gia's" accompany all wood received by QSF and are available upon request for all floors we produce.)
While this new system is an exponential leap from the old order of things on the ground in Peru - it is not without its flaws and loopholes - primarily the corruption of officials involved in over-site, and unscrupulous mill operators who purchase illegal and poached logs and attempt to "bleed" them into their legitimate production or attempt to counterfeit "gia's". This however is rapidly becoming a more risky proposition with each passing day - as relatively harsh and meaningful penalties are be melded out - ranging from fines, jail time, and the ever popular confiscation by officials of logs, milled lumber, and equipment. Gone are the old days, when it was a common sight while traveling on the Amazon River, to see an entire family, including children, sitting around an open fire, surrounded by piles of plantains, fishing poles in hand, free-floating with the current on a man-made island of logs lashed together on the way to the mills in Iquitos - a trip lasting 3 weeks or more.
These days poachers are vulnerable during the time that they are attempting to move logs to a mill - the only alternative to a river float is a large truck - which first requires a road - and is something that the small rogue operator can not afford, and if rented, the owner risks confiscation of the vehicle. None the less, it is poverty and desperation, not greed or malice, that motivates the majority of poachers - and with nothing to loose, the risks become acceptable. When this reality is combined with the motivation of mill operators to increase their output and profits the outcome is the circumvention of the law and introduction of illegally harvested wood into the mix of legitimate lumber.
After 2 decades of interaction with local communities and Government agencies our partners in Peru are uniquely aware of what actually constitutes "green" or environmentally sound timber production practices - and which is why QSF has engaged their cooperation and services in sourcing our hardwoods from Peru. This process is by necessity slow, and our operation is "boutique" in nature - and as a result the selection of our timber is often on the stump, and always involves purchase from the holder of the "gia" - oftentimes on a riverbank in some remote backwater tributary. At QSF we are limiting ourselves to introducing one species at a time as we refine and develop our strategies and sources on ethical harvesting of tropical hardwoods.
For answers to your questions, or for prices, please contact Kent at