Wyrmwood draws from an extremely broad range of species, both in our Core and Expanded lines, with woods from all around the world. While the vast majority of our timbers are not threatened, we consider the issue of wood sourcing an important ethical question, for ourselves and our clients, and have created this page to discuss the issue, as well as highlight the woods that are classified as “Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. Thank you for your interest in this vital issue.
Exotic Wood Sourcing Ethics
Wyrmwood is unequivocally committed to preserving our forests across the world.
Note: This is an evolving document, created in collaboration with other conservation minded gaming enthusiasts. We encourage you to be part of the conversation by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and feedback. As Wyrmwood grows, we are committed to continually looking for ways to improve this policy.
At Wyrmwood, we only source woods that can be legally traded according to CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). We make every attempt to ensure our supply pipeline acquires its wood from legal sources and we never knowingly build with illegal timber.
We openly share the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) status on all of our woods. These standards denote the conservation status of a species whereas the CITES list governs what species cannot be traded. Zebrawood (vulnerable), Wenge (endangered) and Gabon Ebony (endangered) are the only species in our Core line that have are considered vulnerable or endangered. We do not offer any critically endangered species.
We donate 5% of all profits of every Zebrawood, Wenge or Gabon Ebony piece sold both on our site and at conventions, to The Rainforest Trust, helping to create a sustainable future. You can learn more about the Rainforest Trust through their website. https://www.rainforesttrust.org/
We Love Trees and We Love What We Do
We love trees at Wyrmwood. It is the material our craftsmen shape and work with their hands every day. When you have an intimate relationship with your craft, as we do at Wyrmwood, you really care. A craftsman can have a very emotional relationship with the materials they work with day in and day out. Douglas Costello, who is one of our Master Craftsmen and one of the founders of Wyrmwood, has actually gone so far as to name two of his children after trees (Linden and Juniper). So, while it is very difficult to communicate to a non-craftsman the emotional resonance we feel towards trees, you should know it is there, and it is real. Wyrmwood cares about forests.
But there are other reasons to care about forests. Chief among them are environmental concerns. When you are purchasing your heirloom gaming supplies from Wyrmwood, you aren’t purchasing a cheaply assembled and disposable pile of plastic; you are purchasing a natural, wooden object built by dedicated craftsmen, that was meant to be handed down to your children. What we build, we build to last. Forests convert greenhouse gases to oxygen, purify water, support animal habitats, and, at least in our opinion, are beautiful.
Without forests, without trees, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. This is why Wyrmwood is unequivocally committed to preserving forests across the world.
What Threatens Our Forests? Human Development.
Be it be in the form of agriculture, housing, mineral extraction, or careless and reckless logging, it is human development and human agriculture that have been the long term challenges for our forests. Across much of the world, humans have decided that they would rather have houses and farms than forested lands. It is only when people value the forests and the things forests provide that forests are preserved. To reiterate: forests are only preserved when people choose to value what they provide in recreation, timber, or environmental benefits.
Two Approaches to Conservation
There are two dominant approaches, or theories, as to how to conserve our forests. They are the market based approach to wood conservation, and the preservation based approach. At Wyrmwood, we have an “All of the Above” mentality towards conservation. We believe that both approaches have merit and, if we truly want to protect our natural resources, we need to utilize every tool available.
Wyrmwood is dedicated to transparently displaying the rarity of the timbers we use, along with explaining the pros and cons of both market based and preservation based strategies of forest conservation.
We believe that if we are transparent and lay out all the information to our clients, in a fair and unbiased way, our clients can make an informed decision when choosing woods.
Market Based Conservation
The central tenet of Market Based Conservation (MBC) theory is that people act in their own self interest, and it is in their best interest to have forests, whether it be for tourism, hunting, hiking, or timber. By allowing the harvest of rare or endangered wood species you are incentivising the owners of tropical lands to plant more of the trees that are in demand. Market based approaches see utilization as the best means of conservation and it sees the individuals living in and owning the forests as the best stewards of the land.
MBC holds the following to be true: making certain types of hunting or logging illegal is actually counterproductive, serving to eliminate the demand for forested land. In fact, the best way to preserve forests is to utilize them. When a landowner is prohibited from selling a certain species of wood, they’re incentivised to simply clear the land and convert it towards agriculture or development.
In the end, it is agriculture, along with residential and commercial building that are the long term threats to forests. When people are allowed to profit from the forest, trees and forests can grow indefinitely. However, if the forest isn’t allowed to be profitable, our lands will be devoid of them with the exception of a few national parks or wildlife refuges.
A Fair Criticism of Market Based Conservation
Critics of this view argue that the market isn’t working. We have been utilizing our resources to death around the world. The market failed to protect the millions of acres of forests and hundreds of species of wildlife that have been lost in recent history.
They further argue that planting tree farms for the timber industry leads to monoculture, not well-balanced forests.
Finally, they argue that the environmental goals of the community at large are not taken into account when individual landowners are deciding what the most profitable course of action is for their plot of land. Water cleanliness, air quality, and endangered creature protection are not line items on a landowner's budget, nor are they likely to become one.
The central tenet of preservation-oriented conservation is that forests must be protected from people. A supporter of this approach holds that: in order to protect our forests, governments, acting in the interest of the people, must make certain types or development or utilization illegal in certain areas. This, along with non-profit organizations fueled by impassioned, altruistic citizens who can buy and protect lands from development, are the keys for preserving our forests and wildlife.
The market will not yield the types of forest or the balanced development needed by the people of the world. National parks and wildlife refuges are successful examples of this policy in action.
A Fair Criticism of Preservation Conservation
Critics of this view argue that preservation isn’t working. For over a century, we have known that nature is not limitless. Government agencies and NGO’s failed to protect the millions of acres of forests and hundreds of species of wildlife that have been lost in recent history.
They further argue that preservation is expensive and requires effective governance. Unfortunately, some of the areas with the most vulnerable tree species have governments counted among the most corrupt and ineffective on Earth. When the government is corrupt, a “top down” conservation strategy faces an uphill battle.
In Conclusion: A Holistic Approach
Wyrmwood believes that there is an environmental crisis, and acknowledges that neither the Market Based Conservationists nor the Preservation Conservationists have succeeded in protecting the forests. The fact of the matter is, neither have worked as much as either would like. Market Based Conservationists would love to see the Preservation Conservationists succeed and vice versa.
Wyrmwood believes that the key is to realize that both of these groups of conservationists are just that: conservationists, with the same ultimate goals. And that shared goal is one Wyrmwood embraces, as well.
Therefore, Wyrmwood espouses an “All of the Above” approach:
We build our products out of any timber, provided it is legally available.
We are completely transparent as to the rarity of the lumber being used.
We donate 5% of profits of any of our products made from vulnerable or endangered wood from both WyrmwoodGaming.com and at conventions towards Rainforest Conservation.
We hope you consider the topic of forest conservation with the seriousness it merits, and we welcome your interest in this vital issue. Thank you for reading.
More information is available here:
IUCN Red List Woods
IUCN Red List: http://www.iucnredlist.org/
The following Woods of Wyrmwood are listed as Vulnerable or Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. For more information on these categories mean and how these determinations are made, refer to the IUCN Categories and Criteria page.
We will keep these lists up to date, so that our clients always have the ability to make informed decisions on the materials used in their piece. For more information on the status of these woods, or to discuss what woods are best for your project, you can always contact us directly.