Asbury restricts rain forest wood in city projects


Published in the Asbury Park Press 1/10/03

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 friendly fashion.

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 bids.

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


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.

Brooklyn, NY: phone/fax: (718) 398-3760
Portland, OR: (503) 236-3031
Email: relief@igc.org
P.O. 150566 * Brooklyn, NY 11215 USA