Budget constraints blamed for shortcut.
Valdres Folk Museum is in trouble with the Norwegian Rainforest Foundation, after it was discovered its new 32 million kroner public reception building contains Meranti wood from Indonesia and Malaysia.
The open-air museum in Nord-Aurdal municipality in Oppland contains 95 wooden houses and constructions, and is Norway’s fourth largest.
Nils Hermann Ranum, the Foundation’s head of policy, is highly critical of the museum’s choice of construction material.
“It’s both extremely serious, and an obvious paradox when a folk museum that’s meant to exhibit and preserve local culture uses material that contributes to destroying the livelihoods and culture of people living in rainforest areas. Meranti comes from the Indonesia and Malaysia where deforestation is especially high,” he says.
State guidelines forbid the use of tropical timber in public buildings. And Meranti is on the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
Museum Director Torveig Dahl says they decided to use the wood instead of birch to cover the 500 m2 interior walls because of cost, and never considered the ethical sides.
Dahl claims she never knew the Rainforest Foundation considers the wood to be one of the most controversial on the market.
“It’s highly regrettable and I wish we’d done things differently, but we didn’t,” she tells NRK.
Ranum isn’t reassured by her apology, and thinks the museum’s board should have understood using rainforest timber is unacceptable.
“There’s been a long-running discussion about the use of rainforest timber in Norway. I find it unbelievable the museum hasn’t heard of it.”
The National Association of Norwegian Architects (Norske arkitekters landsforbund/NAL) and the Foundation have compiled a folder listing which timber types should be avoided.
“Our advice to architects is very clear. We have ethical guidelines that state the profession has to ensure environmental sustainability,” says Hege Maria Eriksson, the NAL’s professional policy advisor.
The Association believes the museum should replace the wood with something else. But NRK believes it unlikely as the building is owned by the council, which only makes the state guidelines advisory.
King Harald will be inaugurating the new building on 07 June this year.