Promoting lesser used species of woods in the construction and manufacturing sectors

A view from the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council

Part of the role of the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council (FPDMC) – in collaboration with the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Forest Products Association – is to promote the utilization of the lesser used species of woods (LUS’) found in Guyana’s forests.  These LUS contain properties that are comparable to the more commercialized species in terms of green density, heartwood, grain and texture. This has been verified by the Timber Research and Development Association and the Tropenbos International Foundation.

Extensive tests conducted on fifteen species including Blackakaralli, Darina, and Fukadi have found that the properties of these species are similar to (or even superior to) those found in the more commercialized species like Greenheart, Purpleheart, Crabwood and Locust. In addition to those fifteen species, testing has been conducted on an additional eleven  species  by Tropenbos International Foundation.

The FPDMC has also published a handbook that groups those lesser used species into categories based on their properties. These range from very heavy to very light densities. They make comparisons with the more commercialized species, showing, for example, that Black Kakaralli can be substituted for Greenheart, Morabukea can be substituted for Mora, Futui can be substituted for Silverballi and  Darina can be substituted for Locust.

This is particularly useful information for consumers including contractors and carpenters since, very often, the more commercialized species are in short supply. Often, when available, their prices are prohibitive. The LUS’ are usually more readily available and are significantly cheaper than the popular species.

Another major advantage of using the LUS’ is that it widens species utilization, reducing pressure on the popular species of timber and lessening the ‘creaming of the forest’.

Contractors and carpenters can play an important role in the industry by applying their knowledge of species and their properties in terms recommending species for specific building applications. A lack of knowledge of the properties of the LUS’ can lead to recommendations thatg result in the overuse of the popular species (Greenheart Purpleheart, Crabwood etc). disregarding the comparable species that are available in more abundant supply and at a cheaper price.

According, it is vital that contractors and carpenters familiarize themselves with the various species and their properties. This information is detailed in the FPDMC’s Handbook. The Handbook conveys information which can result in more cost-effective construction arising out of the acquisition of LUS’ and lower prices. Interestingly, a number of sawmills and lumberyards are now offering mixed hardwood packages, that is, a greater number of species to make up a specific order. This approach seeks to embrace the greater use of the LUS.’

We are aware that  home-owners have expressed satisfaction with the results secured from the use of species like Tonka Bean and Darina when used for flooring, Korokororo and Darina when used for ceiling panels and Itikiboroballi and Kurokai when used for for wall panels. Similar satisfaction was expressed when Fukadi and Morabukea were used for rafter applications.

At a time of accelerated home ownership it has become even more important that consumers be aware of the importance of using dried timber in house construction and furniture manufacturing. The recommended standard for timber used for these purposes should be in the range of 12%-15% moisture content (MC).  Drying timber allows for shrinkage prior to its use in production. Additionally dry wood will not decay, mold, mildew, or stain. At lower MC levels, there is insufficient moisture for the fungi that cause decay and mildew to grow. Dry wood fastens better, glues better, and machines better than wet wood, and it also takes a better finish than wet wood.

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