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Tropical Rainforests Targeted in Sandy Rebuilding

Rebuilding our boardwalks is important but must not use tropical hardwoods. Rebuilding should not increase climate change pollution.

Tonight the Avon by the Sea Council will be holding a meeting on the construction of their boardwalk.  Currently the town is proposing to use Ipe (e-pay) wood in the reconstruction. Ipe is a tropical hardwood found in the Amazon Rainforest.

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have raised concerns over the use of this wood.  Belmar recently decided not to use the wood after widespread opposition from environmental groups. We know that the community wants to rebuild the boardwalk as quickly as possible but this must not be used as an excuse to undermine environmental protections not just in New Jersey but internationally.

As shore communities rebuild we must not do so in a way that significantly contributes to greenhouse gas pollution.  Our rebuilding efforts must not increase the future impacts of climate change.

We want the shore to rebuild as quickly as possible, however they should not do it at the expense of tropical rainforests. Using rainforest woods will increase impacts on climate change and storm surge affecting Avon by the Sea and other shore communities even more.

As a community that has suffered catastrophic impacts from storm surge and sea level rise, Avon by the Sea should be concerned about the impacts of global climate change and the impacts from severe weather.  Clear cutting rainforests in the Amazon should not be promoted especially since there is no sustainable way to harvest Ipe and there are no certified programs to do so.  Using this wood impacts critically and environmentally important rainforest and adds greenhouse gases, increasing climate disruption. 

There is no way to sustainably harvested Ipe. Anybody who says they can sustainable harvest Ipe is lying. When they clear cut the soil erodes and when they try to replant the trees they all die.  It ends up becoming grazing land or sugar cane adding to global warming and sea level rise.

Using Ipe results in the destruction of many of the last remaining places for important species that are in some cases more than endangered.  Using Ipe results in the destruction of places that are important for scientific research and help develop important biomedical advances.  These practices chase indigenous people out of their historic homelands.  Shipping the wood over 6,000 miles from the Amazon increases the climate change footprint of the boardwalk project.  We believe using public money to pay for this unsustainable wood is wrong.

There are better alternatives.  Plastic wood such as trex and other recycled plastic woods are actually better because do not get splinters, they are cooling on your feet when walking barefoot, they are softer if people fall, and they last longer.  By using the recycled plastic help protect rainforests. 

Alternatives woods can also be used.  Black locust is an invasive species in the northeast which can be used.  The municipality should also look at using salvaged wood, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Weather Proofed Ash found in North America and Canada is an alternative used heavily by European nations and is another alternative Ipe. 

The lesson of Hurricane Sandy is that we need to build things better and smarter not repeating the past. We must look at the world when it comes to climate disruption more holistically. Avon by the Sea’s gain of a new boardwalk should not be at the expense of our rainforest.

Jeff Tittel, as identified in his is Director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom Cular March 07, 2013 at 07:32 PM
@ Local for life, I think you might add that beside pilings, "Timber as differentated from lumber" is also available treated w/ cca. as are creosote treated piling and timber. Just not to the consumer market at local lumber yards or big box stores. One of the biggest issues with CCA treated wood came about from breathing the fine sawdust generated by small to medium circular saws. There is very little, if any particulate inhaled from chain saw cuts, which is the norm for piling or timber cuts. If I was building a new dock or pier for my use, everything that people or my boat would not touch would be creo. treated
john jay March 07, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Isolationism. Hey, if it works for North Korea - should work for us. For those history buffs out there, the US has tried isolationism and it failed. I guess no more bananas.
proud March 07, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Certainly Dennis Rodman would agree
scott hosmer March 08, 2013 at 02:12 AM
from the way james d money and proud go on about how much they dont believe in and actually hate science one can only guess they must have had their heads dunked in the toilet by the bullies in science class back in high school . jerseyswamps there is a petro chemical plastic blob the size of texas floating in the pacific and youre worried a plastic boardwalk might float away?. way to be on top of things there sparky.
john jay March 08, 2013 at 01:57 PM
What? Hate science? The only way the Environmentalistas make their argument is that you have to accept that all of the Brazililan people are corrupt, the Brazilian government is corrupt, the US goverment is corrupt, all the lumber mills are corrupt, all the retail lumber yards in the US are corrupt, and everyone who argues the contrary view are liars. Just read the article and this blog to confirm that. This ranks right up there with the Truthers conspirators! (How juvenile - it's D'Monquay.) StopTittelNow!

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