In the last twenty years, the use of tropical wood pilings has increased dramatically. The wood used is almost always greenheart, logged from the rainforests of Guyana. Greenheart is Guyana’s top timber export and loggers are entering pristine forests hunting for this valuable species. The more demand there is in the US, the higher the value and thus the more legal and illegal loggers will be bulldozing further into Guyana’s primary forests to get it.

Greenheart is reported to have a natural resistance to marine borers (shipworms). But in New York harbor, this has not been the case, where tropical hardwood pilings are being eaten by marine borers just as quickly as are those made of domestic softwoods.

If you are a marine contractor, you can refuse to install greenheart pilings unless they carry independent certification by an organization approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. But don’t be fooled by suppliers that show only a chain-of-custody certification — you must see the certification from the forest producer as well.

What to Avoid

Companies selling uncertified greenheart pilings.

Greenheart Durawoods

William G. Moore

What to Choose

For pilings, recycled plastic lumber is the best choice. A number of companies make pilings out of structural recycled plastic lumber.

The following companies sell recycled plastic lumber (RPL) pilings.

Polywood, Inc.

Plastic Pilings, Inc.

Seapile (Seaward Marine)

TriMax (U.S. Plastic Lumber, Inc.)