#Immediacy on speech making

IRAIN - Already over 100 companies and organisations, including a major retail chain, have....

Already over 100 companies and organisations, including a major retail chain, have received a 'seal of approval'. WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE: All imported hardwoods, and the products made from them, should indicate their country of origin and whether they have come from a managed plantation. Building firms and local authorities should be encouraged to adopt a 'no tropical hardwoods' policy, and timber and do-it-yourself shops should offer their customers ecologically sound hardwoods.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: When buying timber, or products made from wood, choose relatively fast-growing softwoods like pine, larch and spruce. If you really need to use a hardwood, use temperate beech, elm or oak in preference to tropical woods. If you must use a tropical hardwood - though unless you are matching existing timber this should never be necessary - then make sure it is plantation-grown timber which carries a Friends of the Earth (see: www.foe.co.uk) Good Wood seal of approval. Write to Friends of the Earth (see: www.foe.co.uk) for a copy of The Good Wood Guide, which gives full details of sources for ecologically sound hardwoods in The UK. If you have any influence on buying policy for a company or organisation, urge them to adopt a 'no tropical hardwoods' policy.

Encourage your local council to follow suit; several already have. GOOD WOOD- WHO BENEFITS? You: The forests of the tropics have given us medicines, rubber, fibres, coffee, tea, sugar, rice, maize, peanuts, oranges and lemons. Nobody knows what other resources they might yet provide. Do we not owe them something in return? Other people: Native peoples, particularly those of the Amazon Basin and South-East Asia, have been decimated in the race to cash in on forest resources.

Stopping the destruction will give them and their children a chance of survival. The environment: Many ecologists believe that the tropical rainforests hold the key to the climatic balance of the whole planet, as well as protecting fragile soils and preventing desertification.

Further destruction of these forests could spell ecological disaster. DOING IT YOURSELF - THE FACTS: Self-help and self-reliance are important green ideas; nobody knows more about what we need and how we would like our surroundings to be than we do ourselves. The boom in 'do it yourself' (or DIY) over the last 20 years reflects a trend toward creative self-expression.

And the ability to use tools and understand building materials puts power, often quite literally, in the, hands of the individual householder. Doing it yourself opens up enormous possibilities, but it is also important to recognise and avoid the pitfalls. Whether we make things ourselves or have them delivered and installed, it is easy to end up following fashion slavishly.

DIY projects are more often dictated by the experts who write the....

DIY projects are more often dictated by the experts who write the manuals than by the builder's individual needs. And DIY materials are too often shoddy, second-rate and ecol... read more

Check, for example, that you have live woodworm (look for sawdust round....

Check, for example, that you have live woodworm (look for sawdust round the holes) before using highly toxic chemicals. Remember that you can now hire many tools rathe... read more

Three hundred years ago most families, with help, built their own houses,....

Three hundred years ago most families, with help, built their own houses, and what little furniture they had was home-made. Houses were built from local materials, and h... read more