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Sustainable Sourcing Challenges to Exotic Woods

Globalization has made it easier to obtain a variety of lumber species from countries around the world. As wood demand and variety grows, sustainable sourcing is an important part of that conversation. At Cormark International, we have a strong commitment to sustainability and the responsible sourcing of our products from around the world, and we back that commitment with real action.

What are the Challenges to Global Sourcing of Wood?

Challenge:  Long international supply chains can make it more difficult to properly trace sustainability.

Wood and other commodity supply chains can be long and complex. It is common for the producers of the raw material to be very remote from the manufacturers and retailers, with limited communication up the supply chain. This can make it problematic to reconcile what wood is supplied at one end of the supply chain with what is delivered at the other.

How Cormark Addresses Long and Complicated Supply Chains:

Cormark works to identify and influence the critical relationships throughout the supply chain. In addition, we cooperate as close to the landowner and harvester as we can. When this is not possible, we have long-term relationships with brokers who are operating on the ground and can track wood on our behalf. These practices ensure both sustainable practices as well as better citizenship with the local community.

Any new suppliers are researched in great detail, requiring a detailed process to verify their business practices and sources.

Challenge:  An increase global demand for exotic woods is both a challenge and an opportunity.

An increased interest and demand in exotic woods has made it important to monitor the volumes that are being harvested and exported / imported. Species that are in limited supply are monitored and in most cases it is very difficult to obtain export permits from the country of origin if annual quotes have already been met. Special permits are also required to import hardwood species into the USA, with all shipments are subject to search by Customs, Agriculture & the FDA.

How Cormark Addresses Increased Demand for Exotic Woods:

At Cormark, we work tirelessly to precisely prepare all paperwork that tracks a shipment. From the land it is harvested on, with the proper governmental permits and concessions, through the proper export and import paperwork. We require permits in hand prior to proceeding with any new business.

Cormark is always sure to go above and beyond minimum due diligence requirements by suppliers.

How Cormark Works to Ensure Sustainable Sourcing:

Sustainability of the concessions they work in are paramount to their survival and many contribute to environmental & humanitarian programs within those areas and beyond.

Sound reforestation is critical. Sustainability and sound reforestation programs are a key factor in purchasing wood to our organization. We have a strong commitment to the environmental issues that face our industry and will only purchase from reputable and environmentally sound saw milling groups. We have through the years managed to build up long lasting relationships with saw milling groups that have a strong environmental, social and humanitarian obligation to the areas and communities they work in.

The Absolute Biggest Challenge to Sustainable Harvesting of Exotic Wood is Farming.

Finally, we have to talk about the biggest challenge that is the least talked about when it comes to the challenges that threaten sustainable harvesting around the world. Today more natural habitat is lost to farming and commercial / industrial development than to any one logging operation. Unfortunately many laws have been passed to protect habitats from logging but not enough is done to curb overzealous farmers and developers from clear cutting and burning natural habitats.


The largest challenge facing the lumber industry today is not the challenges in harvesting using correct and non-invasive techniques but rather the misconception of people regarding the industry as a whole.

Education is paramount to insure that future generations understand the importance of such a valuable resource. We strive to work with our distributors and their customers in these aspects and are always willing to explain in depth the amount of planning and logistics that we go through to offer beautiful woods from around the world. Our commitment at Cormark to the environment is long term and will look towards the future to insure our continued prosperity.

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