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THD and The Environment

As the world's largest home improvement retailer and an industry leader on sustainability issues, we have the ability to effect change by doing the right thing. To help protect endangered forests and to ensure that there will be timber for future generations, The Home Depot first issued its Wood Purchasing Policy in 1999. From 1999 through 2008 we have been very successful in leading our suppliers to understanding and practicing sustainable forestry throughout the world.
We pledged to give preference to wood that has come from forests managed in a responsible way and to eliminate wood purchases from endangered regions of the world.

Today there is limited scientific consensus on "endangered regions" of forestry. We have broadened our focus to understand the impact of our wood purchases in all regions and embrace the many social and economic issues that must be considered in recognizing "endangered regions" of forests.

To fulfill the pledge, it was necessary to trace the origin of each and every wood product on our shelves. After years of research, we now know item by item - from lumber to broom handles, doors to moulding and panelling to plywood - where our wood products are harvested.

It has been a daunting task, but we are proud of our accomplishments. To further show the company's leadership commitment to the environment and to promote certification in the industry we felt compelled to share our findings.

Building on the Journey

We sell less than 1% of all the wood cut worldwide with 94% coming from North America. The forest land coverage in North America has grown by 1.5% from 1990 to 2005.

Purchases from the rainforests have always been small and continue to decrease. In fact, less than 0.15% of our total wood comes from areas around the Brazilian Amazon Basin. In regions like these, we have partnered with environmental groups, governments and industry to educate and motivate the local communities to promote sustainable timber harvest.

Our research taught us much about the world's forest coverage by country. This information came from many highly regarded organizations, including, but not limited to, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USDA Forest Service, the U.S. State Department, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Global Forest and Trade Network, the Tropical Forest Foundation, the Tropical Forest Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

Reaching out to Stakeholders

At Home Depot we have reached out to many stakeholders over the past 15 years to help us research and understand the world's forestry issues. We have participated in many committees and studies in efforts to clarify the issues that affect our forests. Some of these include Yale Forest Forum, Southern Forest Carbon Project, FSC controlled wood working group and many others. We also invite many ENGOs to our corporate headquarters to meet with our senior leadership team members. Examples of some of the ENGOs that have met with our senior leadership are: Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, Forest Ethics, Dogwood Alliance, Rainforest Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, WWF and others.

Environmental Seal of Approval

Wood is considered "certified" if it has been managed and harvested under strict guidelines and monitored by a third party to ensure sustainable practices are followed. In short, some certified timber can be tracked through its entire journey from stump to shelf.

One of the certification standards is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an independent organization based in Bonn, Germany. We sell more FSC certified wood than any retailer in America and at the same time we have transitioned more vendors to FSC certified wood than any other retailer in America.

We began to give preferential treatment to FSC certified products in 1999. In addition, we have shifted buying wood from questionable sources to companies that practice responsible forestry. From 2006 to 2007 we sold over 400,000,000 pieces of FSC certified wood products. These products originated in many continents including: Europe, Asia, North and South America.

We have worked closely with domestic and international manufacturers to help develop a supply chain that enables consumers to purchase FSC wood products. During the timeframe 2006 to 2008 we developed programs and purchased FSC wood products from over 60 global suppliers. These products currently include categories of doors, boards, patio furniture, moulding, plywood and much more.

Implementing the policy meant making minor changes to our wood supply chain and rewarding companies that practice responsible forestry. Since initiating our policy in 1999 and continuing through 2008 we have maintained approximately the same ratio in wood purchasing volume by country. In 2007 and 2008 we shifted additional wood purchases out of Malaysia, Russia and Papa New Guinea to areas of more sustainability and certified forests. In addition, we have:

  • Stopped buying ramin dowels and shifted to FSC certified eucalyptus dowels
  • Replaced carpenter pencils with FSC certified pencils
  • Worked with our vendors to shift more than 80% of our lauan wood used in the production of doors to wood from more sustainable sources
  • Replaced mahogany levels with domestically engineered wood
  • Reduced our purchases of Indonesian lauan by more than 70%. The minimal amount of lauan purchases that remain in Indonesia are strategically placed with vendors that are aggressively pursuing certification, and have been engaged in third-party audits
  • Moved more than 90% of our cedar purchases to second- and third-growth forests in the United States. The remaining cedar purchases are sourced from coastal British Columbia and have been through the local community stakeholder review. In addition, our vendors are participating in the Joint Solutions Process negotiations
  • Significantly increased our FSC certified redwood. Our two primary suppliers of redwood both give a strong purchasing preference for FSC certified wood and we will continue to exercise a preference for certified redwood
  • Introduced a line of building materials manufactured from wheat straw, including shelving, panel products and underlayment; many of these products are used as substitutes for tropical hardwoods
  • Committed to not purchase uncertified wood products sourced from the 10 most vulnerable forest ecoregions as identified by the World Wildlife Fund in February 2001. These forest ecoregions include:
- Southern Pacific Islands forests - Madagascar mangroves
- Naga-Manapuri-Chin Hills moist forests - Palawan moist forests
- Solomons-Vanuatu-Bismarck moist forests - Philippines moist forests
- Cameroon Highlands forests - Mexican dry forests
- Gulf of Guinea mangroves - East African mangroves
   
 
 
  • Committed to not purchase wood products made from the 40 suspect tree species listed by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre as potentially endangered species, unless the supplier provides the export permit. These species include:
     
- Afzelia bipindensis - Dyera costulata
- Amburana cearensis - Erythrophleum fordii
- Aniba rosaeodora - Eusidoroxylon zwageri
- Aquilaria malaccensis - Flindersia ifflaiana
- Araucaria angustifolia - Guibourtia ehie
- Araucaria cunninghamii      - Intsia bijuga
- Aspidosperma polyneuron                              - Juglans neotropica
- Baikiaea plurijuga - Lovoa swynnertonni
- Baillonella toxisperma - Microberlinia bisulcata
- Bertholletia excelsa
- Microberlinia brazzavillensis
- Bombacopsis quinata - Milicia excelsa
- Caesalpinia echinata - Nauclea diderrichii
- Caryocar costaricense
- Neobalanocarpus heimii
- Cedrela fissilis - Pericopsis mooniana
- Cedrela odorata - Pinus tecunumanii
- Dalbergia cochinchinense - Pterocarpus angolensis
- Dalbergia davidii - Pterocarpus indidicus
- Dalbergia latifolia - Santalum album
- Dalbergis purpurascens - Taxus wallichiana
- Dialium cochinense - Vitex parviflora

The Home Depot Wood Purchasing Policy

The Home Depot will give preference to the purchase of wood and wood products originating from certified well managed forests wherever feasible.
The Home Depot will eliminate the purchase of wood and wood products from endangered regions around the world.
The Home Depot will practice and promote the efficient and responsible use of wood and wood products.
The Home Depot will promote and support the development and use of alternative environmental products.
The Home Depot expects its vendors and their suppliers of wood and wood products to maintain compliance with laws and regulations pertaining to their operations and the products they manufacture.

 

Production by Country

 

Consumption by Country

 

Consumption by Purpose

Our Wood Resources

Product Shifts

Promoting sustainable forestry practices ensure that today's needs are met without compromising the forests for future generations.

All or part of the following product lines have either been changed to a more sustainable wood species or have been certified:

  • Blinds
  • Boards
  • Broom handles
  • Cabinets
  • Carpenter pencils
  • Dimensional Lumber
  • Doors
  • Dowels
  • Fencing
  • Levels
  • Moulding
  • Outdoor grills
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint stirrers
  • Paneling
  • Plywood
  • Shelving
  • Studs
  • Tool handles
  • Underlayment
  • Yardsticks

Certification

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood is harvested only from well-managed sustainable forests. That means all FSC labeled wood can be accurately traced from its origin to manufacturing to distribution, and to you. The companies that supply FSC wood to your local Home Depot store replenish their forests by diligently replanting trees for your future.

Our Commitment to the FSC

What is forest management certification?
The certification of a site-specific on-the-ground forest operation employs best management practices while ensuring the long-term health of the total forest ecosystem.

What forest certification standard does The Home Depot recognize?
The Home Depot recognizes the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as a not-for-profit membership organization that advances forest stewardship through certification of forest management practices and marketplace labelling of certified forest products.

What is the FSC standard?

The FSC's performance-based standard for sustainable forest management is based on a set of 10 international "Principles and Criteria for Forest Management." FSC standard involves the protection of forest ecosystems, water quality, wildlife habitats and local communities.

What does it require to carry a certified label?

A supplier's wood must be documented as coming from a sustainably managed forest.

What are the benefits of certified products?
Certified forest products are the same products with the same quality as non-certified products, yet are labelled as originating from well-managed sustainable forest areas.

What is chain-of-custody certification?

The certification of an established system creates a paper trail demonstrating that certified materials are kept separate from non-certified materials, and can be accurately tracked maintaining their identity and authenticity throughout the manufacturing and distribution process. This is particularly important for sensitive regions of the world where illegal logging and unsustainable forestry practices take place.

What are independently certified forest products?
These products originate in forests that have been certified as sustainably well-managed by an independent, third-party certification organization.

Forest Lands Coverage

Did you know...

  • The world is covered by 9,557,553,850 acres of forests
  • Forest conversion, from forest to non-forest land (crops, roads, etc.) in 2005 was 18,000,000 acres, down from 22,000,000 acres in 2000 and 26,000,000 acres in 1995
  • The United States is the largest producer of wood, but increased forest coverage by 1.5 percent over the past 15 years
 

Where the World's Forests are Located

 

Change in World's Forest 2000 to 2005

Continent % forest lands gained/lost 2000-2005 Country % forest lands gained/lost 2000-2005
Africa -3% China +11%
Asia +1% Indonesia -10%
Canada & USA +.5% Malaysia -3.5%
Europe +.4% United States +.5%
Mexico & Central America -6% Canada 0%
Oceania -1% New Zealand +1%
South America -2.5% Brazil -3%
    Ecuador -6.8%

Source: Forest and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this the first time The Home Depot has addressed its wood purchasing practices?
No, in 1999 we first released our Wood Purchasing Policy. This was one of our first steps towards supporting sustainable forestry throughout the world. In it, we stated that we would stop buying from endangered regions by the end of 2002 and that we would pay special attention to species such as lauan, cedar, and redwood.

What changes has The Home Depot made in product lines to promote sustainable forestry?

We began to give preferential treatment to certified products about two years ago. In addition, we have shifted procurement of wood from questionable sources to companies that practice responsible forestry.

  • We sell more FSC certified wood than any other retailer in America
  • Transitioned more vendors to FSC certified wood than any other retailer in America
  • Stopped buying ramin dowels and shifted to FSC certified eucalyptus dowels
  • Replaced carpenter pencils with FSC certified pencils
  • Worked with our vendors to shift more than 80% of our lauan wood used in the production of doors to wood from more sustainable sources
  • Replaced mahogany levels with domestically engineered wood
  • Reduced our purchases of Indonesian lauan by more than 70%. The minimal amount of lauan purchases that remain in Indonesia are strategically placed with vendors that are aggressively pursuing certification, and have been engaged in third-party audits
  • Moved more than 90% of our cedar purchases to second- and third-growth forests in the United States. The remaining cedar purchases are sourced from coastal British Columbia and have been through the local community stakeholder review
  • Significantly increased our FSC certified redwood. Our two primary suppliers of redwood both give a strong purchasing preference for FSC certified wood and we will continue to exercise a preference for certified redwood
  • Introduced a line of building materials manufactured from wheat straw, including shelving, panel products and underlayment; many of these products are used as substitutes for tropical hardwoods
  • These are just ten examples of our commitment to sustainable forestry through partnership with our vendors. There are many more.
 

How has The Home Depot addressed endangered regions?
We have moved volumes of wood product purchases sourced from sensitive areas to more sustainable and less controversial areas. Even today there is limited scientific consensus on identifying "endangered regions" of forestry. We go to great lengths to track all of our products that contain wood including partnering with our vendors to gain the most accurate information possible. In addition, we closely monitor the state of the world's forests paying particular attention to environmentally sensitive regions.

Is The Home Depot still purchasing lauan, cedar, and redwood?
We have made substantial changes to how and where we purchase these species. Lauan: Since 1999 we have reduced our purchases of Indonesian lauan by over 70%. The minimal amounts of lauan purchases that remain in Indonesia are strategically placed with vendors that are aggressively pursuing certification, and have been engaged in third-party audits. We are working with many organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Tropical Forest Foundation, Tropical Forest Trust and World Wildlife Fund to help solve the many issues facing Indonesian forests. We believe that by staying engaged in this region we can make a more positive impact on sustainable forestry than if we turn our backs and purchases on this region. Cedar: We have moved over 90% of our cedar purchases to second- and third-growth forests in the U.S. This leaves the balance of cedar purchases being sourced from coastal British Columbia (BC). The products harvested in BC have been through the local community stakeholder review. The vendors supplying cedar products to us in BC are practicing variable retention along with other sustainable forestry practices. In addition, our vendors are participating in the Joint Solutions Process negotiations. Redwood: We are the single largest distributor of FSC certified redwood in America. Our two primary suppliers of redwood both give a strong purchasing preference for FSC certified wood. Three out of every four acres of commercially managed redwood is independently certified. We will continue to exercise a preference for certified redwood.

How much of The Home Depot's wood comes from the Amazon Basin?
Of all the wood we sell, less than 0.15% is tropical hardwood from the Amazon Basin.

How much of the world's wood does The Home Depot use?
We sell less than 1% of all the wood cut in the world. 

What organizations is The Home Depot working with to promote sustainable forestry?
We have worked with several organizations that monitor the condition of the world's forests. These organizations also help us promote sustainable forestry through education and information sharing. Examples of these organizations include Canadian Forest Service, Certified Forest Products Council, Conservation International, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Forest Landowners Association, Global Forest & Trade Network, National Association of State Foresters, The Natural Step, The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood Program, Scientific Certification Systems, Tropical Forest Foundation, Tropical Forest Trust, USDA Forest Service, USDA Forest Service International Programs, World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

From where does most of The Home Depot's wood come?
About 95% of our wood comes from North America. The vast majority of this comes from the United States, which has increased its forest lands coverage by 2% over the past decade*.
*Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

What is "certified wood"?
Certified wood has been managed and harvested under strict guidelines and monitored by a third party to ensure sustainable harvesting practices are followed. Some certified timber can be tracked through its entire journey from stump to shelf.

Why does The Home Depot buy certified wood?
Buying certified wood allows us to take an active role in sustainable forestry. By giving preference to certified wood, we are encouraging these responsible practices in all our wood suppliers. Since giving preferential treatment to certified wood, we have nearly doubled our sales of FSC certified products every year as we continue to sell the most FSC certified products in America.

Glossary

Afforestation*  Establishment of forest on land, that until then was not classified as forest. It implies a transformation from non-forest to forest.
Chain of Custody The process by which the source of a timber product is verified. It refers to the process of tracking a tree from stump to shelf.
Clear Cutting**  The removal of all the trees on a site for the purpose of utilization and to provide for regeneration of an even-aged stand of trees, usually of a species requiring full sunlight for proper development and growth.
Controlled Burning**  Use of fire to destroy logging debris, reduce buildups of dead and fallen timber that pose wildfire hazards, control tree diseases, and clear land. Other functions of a controlled burn include clearing a buffer strip in the path of a wildfire.
Deforestation*  The conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree canopy cover below the minimum 10 percent threshold.
Dimensional Lumber (Southern Pine Inspection Bureau) Surfaced softwood lumber of nominal thickness from 2 through 4 inches and nominal widths 2 inches and wider; and which is designed for use as framing members such as joists, planks, rafters and studs.
Ecoregions (The Nature Conservancy) Relatively large geographic areas of land and water delineated by climate, vegetation, geology and other ecological and environmental patterns.
Endemic  Restricted to a particular people or country.
Engineered Wood Product  A composite wood product using glued fiber, lumber and/or veneer to meet specific design criteria.
Forest*  The term forest includes natural forests and forest plantations.
Forest Plantation*  A forest established by planting and/or seeding in the process of afforestation or reforestation. It consists of introduced species or, in some cases, indigenous species.
FSC Forest Stewardship Council 
FSC Forest Certification label
In order for products originating from certified sources to be eligible to carry the FSC trademark, the timber has to be tracked from the forest through all the steps of the production process until it reaches the end user. Only when this tracking has been independently verified, the product is eligible to carry the FSC logo.
Hardwood Tree (Deciduous)**
Trees with broad, flat leaves as opposed to coniferous or needled trees. Wood hardness varies among the hardwood species, and some are actually softer than some softwoods.
Hectare
Unit of area in the metric system equal to 10,000 square meters, or about 2.47 acres.
High Conservation Value Forests (FSC)
There is a lack of consensus about what constitutes "High Conservation Value Forest" Here is one interpretation:
Forests of outstanding and critical importance due to their high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values.
Indigenous

Originated in and being produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment.
Industrial Roundwood*


The commodities included in this category are sawlogs or veneer logs and pulpwood, and roundwood. This includes chips, particles and wood residues.
Lauan
A hardwood that grows in Southeast Asia.
Natural Forest
A forest composed of indigenous trees, and not classified as forest plantation.
NGO
Non-governmental Organization
Oceania The lands of the central and South Pacific including Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia (including New Zealand), often Australia, and sometimes the Malay Archipelago.
Old Growth

There is lack of consensus about what constitutes an "old growth" forest. Here are some different interpretations:

  • Refers to ecological conditions where large trees in the mature stages of their life cycle generally dominate the forest vegetation. Because there can be large differences among forest types, the USDA Forest Service has taken the approach that the broad definition should be applied in conjunction with specific age and disturbance criteria to form locally appropriate definitions (USDA Forest Service).
  • A forest dominated by mature trees that have not been significantly influenced by human activity. A stand may contain trees of different ages and various species of vegetation (Natural Resources Canada).
  • A forest ecosystem where the dominant trees largely exceed the biological maturity age of the species concerned taking into account its specific environment and its geographical location. The temporal dynamic of these forests is characterized by the coexistence of living trees, senescent trees and standing dead trees as well as the presence of fallen dead trees, lying on the ground, showing different decomposition levels. Those forests show little or no evidence of human disturbance (Canadian Forest Service, Quebec).
  • Forests that contain live and dead trees of various sizes, species, composition and age classes. Old growth forests, as part of a slowly changing but dynamic ecosystem, include climax forests but not sub-climax or mid-seral forests. The age and structure of old growth varies significantly by forest type and from one biogeoclimatic zone to another. (British Columbia Ministry of Forests)
Rain Forest
A tropical woodland with annual rainfall of at least 100 inches (254 centimetres) and marked by lofty broad-leaved evergreen trees forming a continuous canopy.
Reforestation*
Establishment of forest plantations on temporarily unstocked lands that are considered forest.
Roundwood*
Wood in its natural state as removed from forests and from trees outside forests; wood in the rough. Commodities include all forms of industrial roundwood and fuelwood.
Sawnwood*
Wood sawn lengthwise or produced by a profile-chipping process, and planed wood.
Silviculture**
The art and science that promotes the growth of single trees and the forest as a biological unit.
Softwood Tree (Coniferous)** Trees that are usually evergreen, bear cones, and have needles or scalelike leaves. They include pine, spruces, firs, and cedars.
Underlayment
A material used to ensure a level surface below various types of flooring or wall coverings.
Variable Retention (British Columbia Ministry of Forests)



A relatively new silvicultural system that follows nature's model by always retaining part of the forest after harvesting. Standing trees are left in a dispersed or aggregated form to meet objectives such as retaining old growth structure, habitat protection and visual quality. Variable retention retains structural features (snags, large woody debris, live trees of varying sizes and canopy levels) as habitat for a host of forest organisms.
Wood Fuel*
Wood that will be used "in the rough" as fuel for purposes such as cooking, heating or power generation; and wood that will be used for charcoal production.
Wood-based Panels*
An aggregate term including the following commodities: veneer sheets, plywood, particle board and fibreboard. Particle board includes varieties such as oriented strand board (OSB) and flakeboard. Fibreboard includes hardboard, medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and insulation fibreboard.

Wooden Dowel
A piece of wood used for joinery.

*Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

**USDA Forest Service: Interim Resource Inventory Glossary

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