Through the ArBolivia Project, an organisation set up to combat deforestation, the skilled craftsmen of my fathers heart were asked to produce a piece of furniture from decaying Amazonian timber deemed unworthy of use and abandoned to perish.
This rotting wood was rescued from the floor of Santisima Trinidad - an area of an indigenous Chiquitana community now supported by ArBolivia - and shipped to the UK to be salvaged.
From the decaying and worm-riddled Spanish cedar, cut down and left for two years in the damp of the Amazon forest, the team created something spectacular and unique, proving that none of this natural resource need go to waste.
Tim, a cabinet-maker at my fathers heart, said ‘The Spanish cedro was a lovely material to work with – it stained evenly and finished beautifully. Unfortunately, if the wood had been preserved properly at source, we could have got much more out of it. Even though some of it was unusable by the time it reached us, we still managed to make a very special cabinet for a very happy customer.’
The Spanish cedar was rescued and shipped to the UK by Sheffield-local David Vincent, founder of environmental organisation ‘The Cochabamba Project’. As a company set up to support local Amazonian farmers in cultivating their own land efficiently and profitably, they also link these smallholders with ethical timber investors, thus reducing the disuse of the woodland and its material.
David says, ‘As more contractors decimate the Amazon, deforestation is increasing. Many of the trees cut down are then rejected by large international logging companies and regarded as waste. The Cochabamba Project is dedicated to educating locals on the productivity and importance of sustainability with an aim to implement reforestation in affected areas.’
To nurture the land sustainably, new forests must be planted. Every six years the smaller of these trees require cutting back to make room and light for the larger more promising timbers. Due to their smaller size and makeup of immature softwood, these saplings are again, being abandoned and left to decay.
To demonstrate how futile this is, the Cochabamba Project asked my fathers heart to prove that, if well maintained, most of this timber has the capacity to be made into something of value.
David Vincent continues, ‘What the team at my fathers heart have done with this wood is an absolute miracle. They have made something magnificent out of what was just waste. The raw material that they had to work with was the worst of the species, but the beautiful piece of furniture it has been transformed into really shows the quality of the wood that’s available. That is the message from this whole thing really - it’s only by appreciating its potential that we can show those at the source, in Bolivia, the importance of treating the wood properly for preservation. With thanks to the skilled craftsmen at my fathers heart, we have succeeded.’
The scheme continues as David and his team at The Cochabamba Project push to save the rainforest by making the workings of these plantations more efficient, and in helping educate those who can make the difference for the future of the Amazon.