Made In The U.S.A.

Could responsible lumber involve exotic Brazilian hardwoods?

In Resources on March 31, 2009 at 12:31 am

It has just occurred to me that maybe the best lumber option for my forthcoming fence and eventual deck will be the least American option.

There’s this newly popular Brazilian hardwood called Ipe (pronounced ee-pay) that is great for decks and fences because it’s very impervious to weather and insects. It’s super-dense and really exceptionally long lasting. It’s also really beautiful, and really expensive.

Wikipedia reports that for New York City’s 10 miles of boardwalk, more than 80,000 acres of Ipe trees in the Amazonian rainforest were logged. Now, though, because the wood is in such high demand, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified IPE is available from “cultivated” trees–i.e. trees from tree farms grown specifically to turn into decks and fences.

Wood isn’t going away any time soon as a building material. Probably because people like me have a hard time switching to plastic just like that. Perhaps a responsibly grown Ipe would be the ideal solution for my fence and deck? As long as it’s certified, it’s not ruining the rainforest.

Then again, it’s being trucked a long long way just so that I can separate my neighbor’s space from my own.

I don’t know what I’ll do. But I know I’ll at least look a little more closely at Ipe.


  1. If you want to seperate from your neighbors, do what we did. Add a natural hedge, one that is non-invasive. Something in the Cypress family . It might take a few years before their tall enough and touching, but your providing something more natural. My spouse and I wanted to put up a fence, but we live in Wilmington/Rocky Point NC., were we have hurricanes quiet often, so it made no sense. If the Leyland cypress breaks, just cut it down, use it for wood in a bonfire (keep in mind to be careful, when burning, it burns really fast “Like a christmas tree”). Then you can replant another Leyland cypress (cheaper than replacing a forest or a fence). Leyland Cypress are used for wind breakers. We’ve got 9 on our property and have not had any problems, but they are still young, only about 10ft tall, after
    3-4 yrs. My neighbors, were happy. They too were thinking about putting up a fence. We live in a nice neighborhood with plots that some are two acres. So we want privacy. Do, stay away from privet as a hedge, it gets big and can be invasive. Good luck.

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