Why choose mango wood furniture?
The mango tree is mainly grown for its fruit and is cut down when it no longer produces fruit – usually around 15 years old, but replanted every 7 years, it is very easy to maintain. However, this type of management is true for few trees and, unlike mango, the harvesting of rosewood and teak, for example, is already highly regulated. The ethical issues surrounding tree harvesting are both extensive and ambiguous. Concerns about sustainability and habitat destruction raise a number of ethical issues. For example, can a species continue to reproduce at a sustainable rate at current rates of harvesting? Even if a tree species could be sustainably harvested from the wild, would this destroy or threaten other species in the same habitat? Does the extraction violate the rights of indigenous peoples and/or the well-being of local communities?
This is compounded by the fact that for some countries (especially poorer third world countries) timber is big business and restricting such a lucrative commercial sector would seem counterproductive and consequently the actual or potential level of exploitation cannot be easily detected.
However, despite the complexity of the issue and the incomplete and possibly erroneous data, some information is better than none. With these gaps in mind, two international organisations are used and quoted on this website: CITES and IUCN. A short way to distinguish between the two is to think of CITES as dealing more with the legal side of the issue, while IUCN deals with the environmental side.
CITES: QUESTION OF LEGALITY
In 1973, most governments around the world reached an international agreement, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES for short. Since its creation, CITES has held a congress of the countries concerned every three years. During this time, species can be added (or reassessed and deleted) to the three-tiered list of endangered species, known simply as the ‘Appendix’. The Appendix, technically a single document, contains three different levels of protection for species.
Appendix I – This Appendix represents the species considered to be most threatened and endangered, and for which international trade is correspondingly most restricted (in the case of wood, this includes finished wood products) (link)
Appendix II – This Appendix contains species that are in the wild but not necessarily threatened with extinction. Species in this Appendix are strictly regulated, but typically not as restricted as those in Appendix I. (link)
Appendix III – This Appendix contains species that a country (referred to as a “Party” under CITES) has voluntarily requested to regulate to help conserve that species. Appendix III species are regulated only by the Party that has requested their inclusion and are therefore less restrictive than Appendix I or II (link)
Growing the mango tree as a fruit tree makes it extremely easy to maintain.
Compared to most hardwoods, mango trees grow relatively quickly, reaching maturity after about 15 years. At this point, they produce less fruit or stop producing altogether and the wood itself becomes usable. Mango growers plant new trees every 7 to 15 years before the older trees become infertile. This creates a sustainable planting and harvesting cycle, and only the less fruitful trees are cut for timber. You can read more about the mango tree here.