In manufacturing our products we use Mahogany, this wood was first introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch Colonial Government during the 19th Century. It was originally grown only on plantations but over the years has become a common tree along roadsides, and offers shade in and around villages. After the war Indonesia gained her Independence and for a few years the plantations were poorly managed, however during the last 10 - 15 years the management and control of these plantations has gradually improved. Reducing corruption and aspiring to more transparent management the Indonesian Government has controlled the Plantations in an increasing responsible way, until now when we have good replanting programs and tight control on who can and who cannot access timber and for what purpose. Our products are all made from Government Controlled Plantation Mahogany, and in that respect can be considered sustainable in so far as the government’s management is improving year on year.
As part of our commitment to the environment, in 2006, we began a tree planting program. These trees are planted in community areas and are the property of those villages. To this date, over 300,000 trees have been planted. We differ from most programs, not a matter of just planiting but doing it where people are interested in nurturing them for their own community.
Our furniture is made in two ways, we have bench making facilities which we allow local craftsmen to use, including supplying them with tools, timber and general financial support. These people run independent businesses within the spectrum of our company. We also have extensive in house manufacturing facilities including machinery and production line techniques where we manufacture components for assembly by hand at the bench. In this way we have managed to integrate hand skills with modern techniques thus retaining the look of a handmade product while ensuring a durable product in a production atmosphere. We also support small workgroups out in the villages to manufacture entirely independently; these pieces are commissioned by us under the scrutiny of our quality control staff. With these craftsmen we work hand in hand to raise the standard of their technical knowledge and skills by helping with finance for machinery as well as in the field training from our resident English cabinet maker.
Once the furniture is ready to be finished, our unique truly unique system kicks in. We have a large hand painting facility because it’s all done entirely by hand, there is no industrial way to reproduce the brushstrokes and distressed effect of our finishes, we have to do it by hand. We have some dedicated people working with us and their skills are really unique, it has been developed over the many years we have been manufacturing in Indonesia. Whether it is a plain colour or an intricately painted item, the painstaking finishing process has to be accomplished, but in a commercially viable way, that was not an easy thing to achieve and we have been through many trials and tribulations to get to this point. The polished pieces are also hand stained, and waxed, and the subtle shading that makes for a really authentic antique look has to be done by hand too. The handles and fittings on our furniture are cast from solid brass or bronze, also in small rural industries that work just from our commissions. So every piece is truly uniquely handmade.
We can and do offer a boxed product, but wherever possible we prefer our clients to choose our recycled packaging. Many small entrepreneurs are involved in acquiring large volumes of used boxes and card to enable us to use re-cycled packaging. Many people depend on this for their living because we buy direct, and we are proud that we help to provide support for local people as well as defending the environment through some measure of re-cycling.
The Trees There are many worldwide initiatives to monitor and control the way that timber is harvested and depleted. We have made a long term investment in Indonesia and as such we feel the heavy burden of responsibility upon us as timber users. While we certainly only use wood provided by legal and sustainable sources we decided to go a step further by initiating a tree planting program. Our company actually going out and planting trees is out of the ordinary, but we also have another unusual approach to this which is gaining respect. We do not only plant Mahogany, because this is being re-planted as used by the government. Although we do sponsor thousands of mahogany trees to local areas where the land has been cleared for various reasons, we also plant other trees with a variety of uses. Mango, Neem, Surien, Mimba, Jackfruit, Durian, these names may not be familiar to us in the West but in Indonesia they are all large trees that not only yield excellent and very usable timber for a multitude of uses, they are also all trees that fruit. This encourages the villagers to take good care of the saplings that we donate, because they are going to receive benefit from them during the time of maturation. They also supply a varied and pleasing canopy in and around villages as well as on hillsides and larger tracts of old woodlands. This year our goal is an additional 100,000 trees. This can be achieved and will provide a huge benefit to so many people. Furthermore we believe by doing this ourselves, through vetting local organizations who want to be involved in the program, the company can achieve something very real and verifiable. There is a lot of talk about carbon footprints and environmental rejuvenation, much of which is just talk, but we have taken action. The seeds are bought from the national seed depository at Bogor in Java. We support a local charity that then plants the seeds and raises the saplings in their nursery. Then the real hard work begins, these trees have to find homes where they will be nurtured and valued. We work with outreach programs through schools and local government officials to find villages that have had severe depletion of small woodlands. Often hillside land where woodlands have been lost to agriculture. These villagers desperately need to recover land to grow produce to feed themselves and to sell, however the strain on the environment can be intense, causing landslides and even flooding. We need to help these groups to understand the environment, to use trees to shore up hillsides and re-green villages like these, to plant riverbanks and to become as close to a natural woodland as possible. Once the baby trees are ready they are sent out to the site for planting. This is a community effort, through the outreach program villagers are already prepared for the planting, and eagerly await the arrival of their saplings. We have been into the field planting trees with children at schools, and with farm groups up in the agricultural valleys on the slopes of the many mountains in Java. The rich volcanic soil is receptive, and the failure rate for our saplings is really low because the villagers that are involved know that they are receiving something of real value. They will enjoy the fruits for many years, and plan ahead to replant so that when they do crop the timber, it is immediately replenished.
Red Tree, Inc 701 East Market Street Louisville, Kentucky 40202 502-582-2555