For Peru-based wood supplier, environmental awareness is king
September 17/24, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 7
By Reginald Tucker
In today’s marketing-centric, eco-conscious world of imported wood flooring, the term “environmentally responsible” is often applied very generously. But in the case of Peru-based Grupo Maderero Amaz S.A.C—which maintains a half dozen carefully managed forest concessions totaling 70,000 hectares throughout the country—the practice of sustainable forestry is in its DNA.
Grupo Maderero Amaz, which has been in business for more than 11 years, operates six sawmills, 36 conventional dry kilns, a veneer plant and a flooring factory. The exotic hardwood flooring manufacturer/exporter has the capacity to kiln-dry 1.4 million board feet of grade timber and components every month, and the flooring plant produces 10,000 square feet per day—more than enough to meet the requirements of customers in Asia, North America, South America and Europe. On an annualized basis, that translates into more than $300 million in sales and upwards of 10 million board feet of sawn timber produced.
But the best part is it’s all done with strict adherence to environmental policies and in consideration of the responsible use of natural resources. “At Grupo Maderero, we maintain a strong commitment to sustaining the forests,” said Luxia Hong, managing director for the company’s North American operations. “In fact, we are the largest FSC-certified forestry company in Peru.”
This impressive scale allows Grupo Maderero Amaz to offer a diverse range of products, including AD-grade timber, kiln-dried grade timber, decking, lamellas for engineered flooring and solid and engineered unfinished and prefinished flooring as well as cabinetry components—all FSC certified.
Not only does this ensure consumers and end users that the company purchases products from only responsibly managed forests, but it provides social and economic benefits as well. “We fully support the local communities near the forests, and we empower them to carry out their self-managed activities and projects at the local level,” Hong added. “That’s something that we’re really proud of.”
Alba Solis, who oversees FSC’s Peru operations, attests to Grupo Maderero’s responsible approach to forest management. “Together with four other companies and one indigenous community, they hold almost half of the FSC-certified areas in Peru.”
Spreading the word
In many respects, Grupo Maderero’s environmental philosophy is just as important as the message behind its go-to market strategy. According to Hong, the company works closely with the Forest Stewardship Council and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to promote awareness of FSC responsibly managed forests and other eco-friendly concepts. The company’s clients on the commercial and A&D side of the business get it, but it’s also a focal Grupo Maderero wants to emphasize to its distributors and specialty retail partners.
It’s important enough that Grupo Maderero Amaz representatives recently participated in an FSC-sponsored summit in Minneapolis featuring prominent global manufacturer brands from different industries, including some National Wood Flooring Association members, Shaw Industries, Target Corp., as well as various furniture and construction interests. The primary aim, according to Hong, was to promote the awareness of FSC certification throughout the logistics supply chain for industries that utilize wood.
At a time when there is so much misinformation and misperceptions about imported tropical wood species and harvesting practices, proper education is critical. Back in July, Grupo Maderero Amaz—along with NWFA, FSC and WWF—helped facilitate a webinar designed to teach consumers more about FSC and sustainable forest management. “There’s so much that people don’t understand about how these products are harvested,” Hong stated.
Case in point is the fallacy that many imported wood flooring suppliers take a careless, random approach to harvesting lumber—a process known as “clear cutting.” But Hong said nothing could be further from the truth. “It’s not about cutting trees; it’s really about forest management,” she explained. “If the trees grow more than 30 years, then they will fall and knock down the smaller ones—which won’t grow as nicely as they should. That’s why it’s so important to manage the forest properly.”
And this is where owning the land has its advantages, according to Hong. “Let’s say you own the forest and you have 20 parcels. That means each year, only 10% of the trees in that parcel are allowed to be cut. This ensures we only cut the portion that already has very tall trees so the smaller ones can grow.”
Then there’s the issue of replenishment. By law, Grupo Maderero Amaz is required to plant new trees in a specific area known as “farms.” And once those new trees grow to a certain size, they are moved to the forest area for replanting.
“The whole concept behind FSC is best business management practices of our forests, which not only ensures the sustainability of global resources but also guarantees the authenticity of the products we produce through the chain-of-custody certification,” Hong explained.