Asbury restricts rain forest wood in city projects
Published in the Asbury Park Press 1/10/03
By NANCY SHIELDS
ASBURY PARK -- City officials have approved a measure to ban the use of tropical
rain-forest wood in rebuilding the boardwalk or any other public structure
unless that wood is certified to have been harvested in an environmentally
The council passed the resolution Wednesday night. The environmental group
Rainforest Relief had sought the measure.
"We're actually thrilled because it makes it that much more difficult for
any council in the future to use it (uncertified wood)," said Tim Keating,
the organization's director.
Certified hardwoods are those accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council,
assuring that the wood has been harvested with the least amount of damage
possible and that the logging benefited the local communities.
Rainforest Relief lost a lawsuit against the city two years ago when Asbury Park
set out to repair 700 feet of the boardwalk and would not guarantee it would use
lumber made from recycled plastic or certified wood. The city had said it was
going to use ipe, an uncertified hardwood also known as ironwood.
The city was paying for the repairs with a combined state grant and loan.
Rainforest Relief pinned its case on a 1993 state executive order that requires
the use of recycled plastic lumber in lieu of virgin materials whenever the
materials are competitively priced.
In Asbury Park's case, that would mean the recycled lumber could not be more
than 10 percent higher than the cost of the ipe, environmentalists contended.
A Superior Court judge ruled against Rainforest Relief, saying the group had
failed to prove its case because it did not go out in the market and get the
Asbury Park had argued that it needed a strong, hard wood for the boardwalk and
that certified wood would be too costly.
In a favorable outcome to both sides after the case, City Engineer Donald J.
Norbut said the forestry company that won the contract, Aquatic Cellulose
International Corp., British Columbia, Canada, would harvest ipe wood that was
lying underwater in a lake salvage operation.
That meant the Brazilian ipe wood that would be hewn into boards wouldn't be
coming from freshly cut rain-forest trees. Rainforest Relief's Keating said he
was happy the forests did not have to be destroyed for Asbury Park's boardwalk.
After the case, the state Assembly passed a bill to prevent municipalities from
using state money for boardwalk repairs with uncertified wood. A version of that
bill is under consideration in the Senate where Keating hopes to see it expanded
to cover all projects in a municipality.
Asbury Park repaired the north section of its boardwalk. The city's waterfront
developer, Asbury Partners, is under contract to rebuild what remains -- most of
the boardwalk. The developer's costs will be offset by reductions in the price
Asbury Partners pays for some of the public beachfront buildings.
"The earth and myself are of one mind. The measure of the land and the
measure of our bodies are the same..."
-- Hinmaton Yalatkit, Nez Perce chief
R A I N F O R E S T R E L I E F
Sparing the World's Rainforests from Consumption
Rainforest Relief works to protect the world's remaining tropical
and temperate rainforests by reducing the demand for the products
and materials of rainforest destruction such as timber and paper,
industrial agricultural products such as bananas, beef, coffee,
chocolate and cut flowers, and mining products
such as oil, gold and aluminum.
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