With all the issues regarding the downgrading of Genuine Mahogany and the availability of African Mahogany, many of our customers have been asking for suggestions of alternative species. The good news is that some of these alternatives may be even better than the Mahoganies and are even establishing markets of their own, apart from their use as a “Mahogany alternative.”
Many of those looking for an interior species to replace Genuine Mahogany have complained that the African species fall short in that they’re more difficult to work. At first, Spanish Cedar appeared to fill that void, but availability has become an issue with it, as well. So as builders seek out an alternative to this Spanish alternative to African and South American Mahogany, one solution we proudly offer is plantation-grown Fijian Genuine Mahogany.
Concerns Regarding Plantation Species
If you know much of the history of J. Gibson McIlvain, you know that we tend to be cautious about plantation species in general. Often, meticulously spaced plantation trees grow with more exposure to sunlight than they’d have in a natural forest, causing them to grow more quickly and branch more often. The resulting wide growth rings translate into a lower density of the wood. Color-bleaching and increased incidence of pin knots also result. Soil composition also causes different characteristics in plantation species than their counterparts that grow in natural forests. However, we believe that plantation-grown Mahogany is different from most plantation species.
Specific Scenario of Plantation Mahogany
The British planted Genuine Mahogany in plantations on the Fiji islands, and since then replanting spread has naturally occurred in a surprisingly aggressive manner that makes replanting strategies almost irrelevant. With 3 or 4 generations of healthy Mahogany trees being managed sustainably and low-impact forestry practices leading to strategic thinning, strong primary stock is the result. We’re now seeing the start of a proper forest with its own self-sustaining ecosystem.
Since Fiji’s climate and soil composition is similar to that of Mahogany’s natural home, we’re seeing very little variation in its quality. With continued proper management, we’re optimistic that the next 50 years will bring an even greater supply of Genuine Mahogany. Essentially, we’re seeing Fijian Mahogany grow more similarly to Genuine Mahogany in older growth forests than the typical plantation species.
More Good News for Fijian Mahogany
Since some of the problems with South American Mahogany can be tied to its appearance on CITES appendices, it’s significant to note that Fijian Mahogany is far from being considered endangered. What that means for customers is that it’s free from the threat of significant price increases, import delays, or waning availability. The excellent working properties, along with color consistency, make it the closest match to South American Mahogany, and we predict an increased interest in Fijian Mahogany in years to come.