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Belmar Boardwalk dilemma: Rebuilding with Rainforest Wood (ipe) would Anger Environmentalists

rainforest_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

A tropical hardwood known as ipe that is known for its durability is Belmar’s choice in the reconstruction of their boardwalk. Again.

The community ordered $1.2 million worth of wood in 2007 that was advertised to have been harvested responsibly, but canceled the order due to environmentalists’ complaints.

Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty says the community will only rebuild the boardwalk with ipe if it is taken from a sustainable source.

But environmentalists say there is no such thing in endangered rainforests.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, wrote to Doherty discouraging the use of the rainforest wood. He wrote, according to the New Jersey Herald, “Belmar 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 by a community as environmentally conscience as Belmar.”

“The lakes and the boardwalk are such an intricate part of the character of our community,” Doherty said, according to NJ Today. “It’s gotta get rebuilt and repaired. Belmar will never be the same; the Jersey Shore will never be the same. Its important to have beach communities back in time for the summer.”

A number of shore areas are looking into wood alternatives. Ray Rossi of nj1015.com said that nothing looks and feels like real wood for a boardwalk. A portion of the Belmar boardwalk had been reconstructed with Trex, composed of wood and plastic fibers.

“You may as well be walking on a pancake griddle,” Rossi commented, according to nj1015.com. Approximately 55 percent of voters supported an alternative to wood for reconstruction of Jersey Shore boardwalks in a station’s poll.

Meanwhile, Belmar is continuing its “Buy a Board” promotion to get more people involved in the community’s boardwalk reconstruction. CBS Philly reported that donations are going from $25 to $5,000, and names of contributors can be listed at a beach entrance.

 
Comments (4)
4 Wednesday, 19 December 2012 12:35
Joe Buckhaults
Plastic is made from oil. Synthetic decking is made with plastic. Wood is the only renewable resource on earth. Forests are not clear cut in Brazil to make Ipe decking. Clear cutting is for plantation forests or very homogeneous forests.

If you remove the economic value of Ipe wood, the forests are put at great risk of being converted to agriculture and pastureland. That is when clear cutting and burning occur.

Laws in Brazil regulating the harvesting of timber on all land (private, public and Indian) are among the most rigorous in the world. A sustainable forestry management plan approved by the Brazilian government (both state and federal agencies) is required to legally cut any tree. Buying legally documented Ipe is the best way to save the resource.
3 Monday, 17 December 2012 08:57
Chris Nolan
Responsibly harvested tropical hardwoods last long, wear extremely well and look beautiful for decades. In Brazil, responsible harvesting and forest management is required by law. Over the past 10-15 years, Brazilian agencies IBAMA, EMBRAPA and SEMA have done an incredible job ensuring that all hardwoods are responsibly harvested by sustainable yield forestry methods.

In the US, the Lacey Act requires that any tropical hardwood imported into the US must pass stringest verification that it was harvested legally by sustainable yield forestry methods before it can be brought into the US.

I applaud Mayor Doherty's bold decision to do the right thing for the community in Belmar.
For additional information about responsibly harvested hardwoods, please visit: www.mataverdedecking.com
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