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Our lumber division continues to take shape and gather steam

As a pioneer in sustainable forestry, World Tree is more determined than ever to demonstrate that Empress-based (Paulownia) agroforestry is more sustainable and more profitable than the current dominant models of commercial forestry.  

As we look into 2022, it feels like the world is starting to catch up to what we have all known for years: it’s time for a new way of doing business that can create economic returns and environmental regeneration together. 

With the addition of our Lumber Division Director, Jack Matson, to our team last year, our lumber division is taking shape and gathering steam. Our efforts are concentrated on introducing this beautiful, highly versatile hardwood into the U.S. market.  

Our report from late 2021, Paulownia’s Potential Within the Lumber Market looks in detail at global and domestic trends and how Empress (Paulownia) lumber is placed in comparison to other more commonly known woods.  

Putting Empress Lumber on the Map 

Our current focus is to introduce Empress lumber to domestic manufacturers of furniture, board sports, and musical instruments. Empress lumber and veneers are superior to many other wood choices for these products. The wood is easy to work, has a very high strength-weight ratio, and is water resistant. In addition, it is a non-resinous wood that is naturally light blond in color meaning it stains and finishes to a remarkable range of colors and finishes.  

Our focus on high end markets also reflects our commitment to both profit and sustainability. These markets not only fetch the highest prices, the products also have a long shelf life, keeping the carbon locked into the wood for the longest time. 

Empress lumber has many clear advantages over other woods. In this post we focus on two: its versatility and its ability to replace other woods that are on the verge of extinction. 

Standing Out from the Crowd

Empress trees produce a hardwood that is highly versatile and can be used in more kinds of products than many other types of wood. It can be used as a replacement for more expensive and harder to find hardwoods such as Ash, Teak, and Balsa, and softwoods like Redwoods and Western Red Cedar.  

One example is its use in high-end, creative interior furnishings and artwork. World Tree has recently entered into a partnership with a leading interior design studio in Los Angeles, Viola! Creative Studio. The founder, Katrien Van der Schueren, was looking for a sustainable wood that would work for her unique projects. She was so impressed by sample Empress wood we sent her that she has switched over to it as the default wood for all of her projects going forward.

Katrien commented:  

“I was amazed that after working with wood for years and years that I never heard of this wood before. The fact that it is a lightweight hardwood and obviously the beautiful story as to how we can reduce our carbon footprint dramatically, it is a wonder wood.” 

One of the first projects she used our Empress wood for is inside the recently completed new Securities and Exchange Commission building in New York.  All of the wood in the furniture and artwork is made from Empress, including the outdoor planters which were made from wood harvested by us from President Jimmy Carter’s farm in Georgia.

Find out more and watch the recording of our webinar featuring Katrien announcing our partnership. 

Changing Times

It is estimated that 30% of tree species around the world are going extinct, mostly due to overlogging, climate change and disease. The most threatened are tropical hardwoods. This is generating an increasing demand for hardwoods that are abundant and sustainably grown. 

For example, guitar manufacturing giant Fender is moving away from traditional hardwoods such as Swamp Ash because of its declining availability resulting from beetle infestations and regular flooding in the southeast. Traditional Ash woods may soon become extinct. This has Fender and other luthiers scrambling to find replacements that match the quality of Ash, and Empress wood’s lightweight and superior tonal qualities, make it an attractive alternative.  

Bernie Funston mandolins

Luthier Bernie Funston was one of the accomplished luthiers invited to make an instrument of Empress wood harvested by World Tree from President Jimmy Carter’s tree farm as part of our President Carter Legacy Collection.

Bernie commented “This was wood that was sustainable, that was light, and it was strong. And those are all great ideas for guitar makers.”   

Another advantage of Empress wood grown by World Tree is that populations are healthy and increasing, and Empress trees are not included on the CITES Conservation Treaty’s list of endangered species. That means items made from it are not restricted for import or export.  

There’s no doubt the domestic lumber market is ready to embrace the many superior qualities of Empress wood – versatile, light but strong, beautiful and sustainable. 

To learn more about Empress lumber, visit our website.

For more information our Lumber Division, please reach out to lumber@worldtree.eco.