Ethical Focus: why we are switching to Iroko

Working in the yachting industry, we are often required to manufacture items in Teak for discerning clients whose yachts are being built to the highest of standards in Europe and further afield.

Teak has a long history of use in maritime applications and is synonymous with luxury yachting – most notably used for the iconic wooden decks which are inlayed with dark caulking in straight lines. Teak is also often used for raised pilothouses on sailing yachts, and more recently throughout the interiors of large yachts in wall panel detailing, handrails and other features.

In terms of sustainability, teak’s credentials are somewhat tricky to get your head around. The most sought after teak comes from forests in Myanmar (formerly Burma) – a nation currently under the rule of an oppressive military junta which is plundering the historic forests and profiting vastly from the decimation of teak stocks at an alarming rate. Teak forests take between 80 and 120 years to mature, and only then is the timber considered to be at its finest – or perhaps even ‘superyacht standard’.

The import of teak from Myanmar is prohibited in the UK and EU, and therefore the black market is thriving for this material worldwide. A fantastic article recently published on Superyacht News detailed how this wood is still ending up in Europe and in some cases being trafficked through Italy; highlighting the continued demand for this illegal product over and above the alternatives.

Sustainably grown teak stocks are improving, however many feel that the quality and ‘look’ of this wood is just not as good. This leaves a final category of dwindling stock available to manufacturers – reclaimed teak – which is sourced from the decks of salvaged old ships or other structures where teak was used. This wood is increasingly unavailable and varies in quality and consistency.

With all this in mind, we have made the decision to remove teak as a standard material offered for our range. We will replace this with Iroko, sometimes referred to as ‘African Teak’, which is a gorgeous teak-alternative grown in Africa with a very similar grain and shade to Teak. As with all our woods, this will be sourced sustainably and we will offer clients the opportunity to apply a number of different finishes to it to match their interior schemes.

Aside from aligning with our company ethics and sustainability ethos, using Iroko in place of Teak also helps to cut equipment costs for clients as the timber is far cheaper. Teak will still be available on request, however we will consider each project on a case-by-case basis and investigate the source of timber used carefully prior to agreeing to manufacture.