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South American Mahogany = Honduran Mahogany?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by SixShooter, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

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    My local hardwood supplier has 'South American' mahogany but he isn't sure if it is the same thing as Honduran Mahogany. I'm pretty sure it is. Can anyone confrim?
     
  2. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    It almost certainly is.

    Honduran mahogany (swietenia macrophylla) is found from Mexico to Venezuela and Peru. Cuban (or West Indian) is closely related but very scarce; in fact they are all CITES listed and protected. There are about 15 species known as "mahoganies" - some African or Asian/Pacific - and some of them hybridize with each other so it's a complex topic!
     
  3. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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  4. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    Nick-
    I appreciate your drive to fuel consumer awareness, but the role of selecting logging in deforestation is akin to the role of delicacy fishing in declining shark populations.
    Because it caters to a high-class clientele, and because it seems to the first glance a direct cause, it seems logical to restrict, or even to ban it.
    About 75,000,000 sharks per year, by HIGHEST estimates, are killed for shark fins.
    However, easily 1,000 times that are killed by trawler nets, particularly countless immature sharks, largely for use as animal feed supplement, with little or no economic gains from the practice compared the the losses of life and future harvests due to lack of mature(i.e. spawning) individuals.

    You see, just as sharkfin soup looks like a big number, but is dwarfed by trawling for junk protein's damage, deforestation is not largely associated with selective logging.

    But deforestation in tropical areas the world over hasn't had major influence from timber demands since the earlier half of the 20th century.
    It's much, much more about increased demand for fuel(charcoal) within villages, Meat(beef) from industrial(izing) nations(largely the US, EU, and asia), and the drive by local governments and peoples to greater increase economic independence, through agriculture. Just as your link says, it ends up in tool handles, and other "junk wood" products, just like the trawling.
    The best solution, for both, is not a boycott. A boycott of salmon just means that fewer mature salmon are caught, due to lack of market value, and so the entire population is trawled with no regard for value. Same with the forests, it's made into carcoal, tool handles, whatever can be sold without question.
    The solution is something more like the canadian silviculture system.
    If you log a certain acreage of forest in canada, you're legally required to plant a certain acreage of trees, of a certain type, at a certain density. Generally the planting duty is bid off, and tree planters in canada can make as much as 70,000 dollars per year at it, no union, paid by productivity(although most beginners lose money the first year or two due to equipment and training costs).
    With fishing, the ideal would be to require the release of a certain number of young fish per ton caught. That motivates the companies, financially, to catch only high-value and mature fish, because junk fish costs much more to produce than can be it sold at.
    Honduras, just the same. When a legal outlet is opened and maintained at a proper economic level, illegal activity does not happen in enough force to do damage. Illegal logging in cadada is practically unheard of, and this model would be even more favorable in honduras because trees in the tropics grow 8 times faster than trees in temperate zones(subtropics is 3-5, which is why north and central florida is laden with saw pine plantations, which are all privately owned and are more environmentally friendly than any other productive land use in the state).

    Illegal logging is a problem because CITES says "you can sell effectively no valuable wood, but junk wood isn't really inspected".
    Junk wood doesn't make sense when you have to replant, but good wood does, and properly selective logging is ecologically sustainable.
     
  5. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm not sure what you're saying. It's CITES listed because it's endangered.

    Mahogany is harvested predominantly through the practice known as selective logging, in which only mahogany and other valuable timber species—the "precious woods"— are extracted. This practice typically does not create conditions that foster regeneration and it results in removal of nearly all mature mahogany trees within a population, drastically reducing its reproductive potential. To maintain production levels, loggers are continually moving into increasingly remote unlogged old-growth forests, rather than harvesting within fixed areas from regenerating stands. Scientists have found that populations are in decline, and are concerned that current patterns, methods and levels of logging are unsustainable over the long term.

    You take all the adults out - where do the kids come from? The forest looks exactly the same 'cept there's not a single mahogany tree left in it.

    Try and find a Brazilian Rosewood tree in forests they used to grow in ... and they'll never come back - because there's nothing making seeds.

    Buy plantation mahogany until the country your wood comes from has their logging under control. Simple. Better yet - buy wood from your own country.
     
  6. PlutoLex

    PlutoLex Tele-Meister

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    That's the conclusion I keep coming to as well.
     
  7. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    Well that would only be true if 2 of 3 criteria are true-
    1.Mahogany seedlings are shade-intolerant
    2.Mahogany seeds have a short period of viability
    3.Mahogany is economically mature(good wood in good size) before sexually mature(producing seed)
    Now, if 1 is true but not 2 or 3, then the seeds have to wait out until an ecological disturbance(dieback, clearcut, fire) to recover(as douglas-fir does).
    If 2 is true, but not 1, then young saplings can grow as understory trees.
    If 3 is true, and neither 1 nor 2 is, then the tree will regenerate continually from seedbank until that is actually exhausted.

    Now, your example about brazillian rosewood isn't the case, braz RW is threatened more by agricultural expansion than logging, and the decline in forest because it's more of a pioneer species(which will sprout up in any clearing or into non-forested land) than a climax species(which devolps in understory with compacted soils which are held up by other species) like brazil wood is. While clearcutting would be good for brazillian rosewood, it would be bad for everything else. One thing to keep in mind is that the main place brazillian rosewood regeneration seen is abandoned farmland.

    Another problem with BRW seed is this:
    http://www.penofin.com/tips-log.shtml
    Yep, the nuts are used up. It states the trees themselves are used as protective cover for shade-grown coffee, but all the nuts which would drop out to surrounding clearing, float downriver to bare land, etc, are used up.
    Interestingly, CITES lets you buy this, but not usable seeds. If I want a rosewood tree in florida(which I could grow, though climate further south would be better since it wouldn't need covered over winter), I have to get an indian rosewood tree.

    Tropical rainforests have different responses to different stimuli, clearcutting tends to cause soil compaction and erosion, which makes full-forest regeneration difficult, selective logging will generally leave most things intact, including regeneration of the selected species, unless my previous 2 of 3 example is the case, which would be as you said, a lack of mahogany, with all else the same.

    Now, your link was mostly about pine, and clearcutting, anyway.
     
  8. PlutoLex

    PlutoLex Tele-Meister

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    The problem with tropical soils is that they are nutrient poor. Most of the nutrients are in the vegetation, that's why the farms fail after a few years - all the nutrients are gone. This also prevent re-forestation; without downed, decomposing trees, there are few nutrients for the next generation.

    On the bright side, they are now finding that BR can be plantation grown. It's just too bad nobody bothered to study this a few decades ago... we'd now have a stable supply of nice, green sourced BR.
     
  9. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    Instead of Honduran Mahogany you could save some trees and make a body out of Shark fins...

    Some Mahoganies are great woods and typically the ones that are great to work with are the rare ones. Honestly, I prefer Alder, Ash, Maple, Wild Cherry, D-Fir, Madrona and Yellow Poplar. - it's cheaper, easier to find great looking grains, sounds great and grows all over the place up here. I have a Cedar Tele that has amazing warm tones.
     
  10. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    "Nutrients" is an extremely vague and unsatisfactory way of explaining tropical soil chemistry.
    Oxisols, the predominant rainforest soil, have very poor characteristics, because they've been under rainforest. They don't retain water or water-soluble nutrients such as nitrogen, copper, or zinc very well.
    However, the limiting nutrient(the reason farms fail) is nearly always nitrogen. Brazillian rosewood, brazilwood, and many other type species of rainforest trees are Legumes, that means they fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. This allows not only them to grow on the nitrogen-poor soils, but all the "climax species" of the rainforest come from this surplus nitrogen in the soil.
    When these nitrogen-fixing trees are removed, and the land farmed for nitrogen-consuming plants such as corn, the land quickly becomes nitrogen poor, and no longer supports agriculture in that respect.
    However, it will support the same nitrogen-fixing trees it did before, which is why BRW frequently recolonizes fallowed farmland.
    However, some plants create a problem.
    Tropical rainforest trees are not the only nitrogen-fixing plants around. Soybeans, peanuts, and other Legume species fix nitrogen on their own, so it's not a limiting factor.
    But when the poorly-retaining soils run short on zinc or copper, that is when the land becomes truly useless, without remedial fertilizers. That land, if left fallow, tends to break into an open savanna-type land, generally supporting little more than grasses.
    In the developed world, we rarely fallow farmland anymore, and some farmland is used which could never be without modern technology. For instance, the massive sugar cane plantations in the localized rainforest-like environment around lake Okeechobee, depend heavily on copper implementation, without artificial sources of copper, no cane could be grown.


    As for plantation BRW, I think it's a great innovation, however with the wood being exported, the same land which eventually fails with soybeans, still fails with Legume trees. Unless a program of soil supplementation is added, eventually oxisols fail.
    But it won't be decades from now, as I said previously, tropical rainforest trees grow about 8x as fast as the maples and poplars up north do. The only problem is the continued CITES restriction(as I said before, you can buy oil, but not seeds, will they even let wood out of the country?), and whether us guit-pickers will be outbid by fine furniture producers.
     
  11. lerxst6

    lerxst6 TDPRI Member

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    Consider sapele too. It's from Africa and akin to mahogany. I have a nice hunk of it that is going to become a tele, hopefully in the near future. Looks awesome. Pretty sure it will sound awesome too.
     
  12. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    Sorry, my fellow gainesvillian, but sapele harvesting threatens even more important species, and encroaches on the habitats of these fellows:
    [​IMG]l[​IMG]

    African lumber trade also supports africa's longest running war, with both belligerent sides exploiting timber and copper to fund war atrocities, such as Rape as a weapon, Child enslavement for soldiers and child prostitution to soldiers, the mass genocide(including common cannibalism) of native pygmy people, and worse.

    I would not support purchase of African lumber or copper until war in the congo stops.
     
  13. lerxst6

    lerxst6 TDPRI Member

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    Well mine was obtained 100% legally from a wood supplier that used to produce for companies such as Fender and Gibson. My brother in law is in management there and got it for me. According to him they don't provide body blanks for the guitar companies any more because they're too slow to pay their bills.

    Just wondering what woods and where should we all get supplies from?
     
  14. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    When in doubt, buy American or Australian(i.e. buy local, if illegal logging isn't a concern in your country). Buying reclaimed wood is your best absolute bet, because no new trees are felled.
     
  15. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Thanks, Ian, for being our "conscience" guy.

    I'm kinda on vacation from social responsibility here at TDPRI but I recognize exactly where you're coming from and I respect it greatly.
     
  16. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    Thank Nick for bringing it up, really I probably wouldn't have even brought up deforestation and illegal logging as a topic on here, but it's an imperative issue, symptomatic of many others.
     
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