IWPA AHEC logos.pngRecently, the International Wood Products Association (IWPA) partnered with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). This strikes me as a natural blend of strengths.

The IWPA promotes the responsible international trade in wood products. Members include U.S. importers, international manufacturers and a wide number of service organizations. Products represented include lumber, decking, plywood, and many others including flooring. Species represented include everything-tropical woods, softwoods and temperate hardwoods from Europe, Asia and the North America.

AHEC represents the American hardwood industry internationally, helping promote the exports of an equally large range of products such as lumber, veneer, plywood, flooring, molding and dimension materials. In my opinion one of their greatest gifts to the industry has been the creation of information in multiple languages explaining the U.S. species, NHLA and NWFA rules and terms, and much more.

Many companies are members of both organizations as globalization encourages a presence in all parts of the industry. U.S. companies export hardwood lumber and import tropical species. Foreign producers often utilize U.S. hardwoods in products they export to the United States. There is a natural business synergy between the two organizations.

Both organizations recognize the long-term value of the forests and the need to promote legal and sustainable forestry. As some of their promotional work, AHEC encourages the use of lesser known U.S. hardwoods and is creating several programs to scientifically demonstrate U.S. hardwoods' excellent environmental track record and superior performance in use.

Among their many activities supporting trade, the IWPA's CURE (Conservation, Utilization, Reforestation, Education) is an environmental education and outreach program that has worked successfully to protect both the tropical forests and the international tropical timber trade. The IWPA also provides educational seminars and training on Lacey, formaldehyde issues, and other green issues.

I think it's wonderful that the two groups will be working even more closely together in the future-it can only mean good things for the international wood trade… in all directions!

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")