Teak supply problems are not in the least bit novel. Genuine Burmese Teak wood has been less readily available and of lower quality for the past 150 years. In a nutshell, the problem is as follows: Despite being professionally managed since 1856, Myanmar’s forest resources have continuously declined in quantity and quality due to rising population pressure and the resulting demand for both forest land and forest products. Nevertheless, even with these hurdles making quality wood acquisition increasingly challenging, J. Gibson McIlvain only offers genuine Burmese teak for sale.
Teak Plantation Issues
We’re not being excessively restrictive by only offering Burmese Teak; rather, such a restriction is entirely consistent with our commitment to quality, which permeates all of our lumber selections and activities. As a side point, we’re not necessarily against lumber from plantations. Only regularly from the island of Myanmar can one source FEQ Teak, which is distinguished by its renowned golden tone and straight, vertical grain.
Although we’ve visited Teak plantations and have even considered buying some Plantation Teak lumber, we’ve just found the quality to be lacking. Uneven coloring and pin knots are two variations which we’ve observed, both of which are brought on by the quicker growth rate and relatively sparse forest cover. Because there are more lower branches with Plantation Teak trees, there are more pin knots, which is a problem that impacts more than just looks, because each knot obstructs the flow of grain, traps water, and lessens the weather resistance that makes Teak wood so desired in the first place.
Where Plantation Teak Is Cultivated
Another problem with plantation grown wood is related directly to the specific locations where these plantations are based. The Teak trees in plantations are being cultivated with a different soil chemistry compared to what natively grown Teak trees experience. Teak plantations typically have a significantly lower percentage of silica content in the soil which directly impacts the wood that results.
Burmese Teak’s ability to resist water is mostly due to its high silica content, therefore this problem is a deal-breaker for our customers who make boats, so the plantation wood isn’t a suitable fit for us. The difference in climate between where Teak plantations are based versus Myanmar also contributes to the production of boards with significantly less consistency in both grain and color, therefore the problem is not limited to just the soil chemistry.
Challenges with Old Growth Teak
Since we are familiar with our customers’ requirements, we are aware that they demand the constant coloring, clear, straight grain, and weather-resistant characteristics that can only be found in genuine Burmese Teak. The drive toward Plantation Teak has been fueled by a desire for sustainability, which we fully support.
We fervently think that good forestry management of old growth Teak forests is the greatest method for generating sustainable, high-quality Teak. By only buying Teak from mills that use environmentally conscious, sustainable techniques, we work hard on our end to contribute to this ideal solution.
Although Myanmar’s forests have a long history of using sustainable management techniques, the country has been ruled by a military administration for more than 50 years, which has led to a stream of information/communication that is less than open. Since then, there has been a significant rise in the demand for Teak on a global scale, necessitating even stricter laws to safeguard this valuable natural resource.