Curio Studio: Tom Wilson FOREST DWELLERS

The tropical forests of Africa are home to some of the planet’s most extraordinary animals.  Gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants and bongos (forest antelope) are all facing an uncertain future, with habitat loss being among their greatest threats. These four Forest Dwellers, each made from tropical African timber, have been conceived to prompt conversation about the role of forestry for protecting the world, natural habitats and biodiversity. 


The future survival of these creatures, and countless others, is inextricably linked to the survival of their forests.

Forest Dwellers: ‘Sustainable’ Forestry

The issue

The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990. Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s (FAO).


The FAO find agricultural expansion to be the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation and the associated loss of forest biodiversity. Large-scale commercial agriculture (largely attributed to cattle ranching and the cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 percent of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture another 33%.


Can we regrow our forests to limit the impact of climate change and help to reverse biodiversity loss?

Is it possible to sustainably harvest timber and natural products, contributing to ethical and sustainable economies, as well as safeguarding habitats, biodiversity, and the health of the Earth? 


The role of forests

Forests managed for both production and biodiversity keep the forests standing.


Tom’s ‘Forest Dwellers’ encapsulate a conversation around timber sourcing and the correlation of deforestation to a biodiversity loss. His design appeals to our inner consensus through these adorable animal creations. Connecting Tom with INTERHOLCO, interconnected with TTF member Danzer seemed like a perfect match. More on Tom’s intended CONVERSATION can be found here in a Q&A


Wood is the only truly sustainable and renewable building material. By choosing to build with sustainable timber: businesses, architects, retailers and specifiers are helping to preserve and grow the world’s forests and combat climate change.


Research has shown that managed forests have the ability to absorb significantly higher carbon dioxide in the long term compared to unmanaged forests. Together with the preservation of ancient forests, these managed forests are also able to support the biodiversity of the planet, with planting guidelines setting aside as much as 15% for ‘natural’ forest. [See Sustainable Forest Management]


‘Sustainable forest management means using forests and forest land in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions at a local, national, and global levels, which does not cause damage to other ecosystems.’ – EU 2013 Forest Strategy


One of the most inspiring success stories comes from the timber provider for this design, Interholco. Preserving the gorillas in the Congo while providing a a livelihood through placing a value on the forest, to prevent deforestation.


Sustainably managed forests balance the needs of the environment, wildlife and forest communities to protect and maintain biodiversity, while also performing ecological, economic and social functions at a local, national and global level.


The EU FLEGT Action Plan

FLEGT aims to reduce illegal logging in timber-exporting countries outside of the UK and EU by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.


Both sustainable forest management & FLEGT aim to improve the seven elements of sustainable forestry: resources, biodiversity, forest health, productive function of forest resources & protective function, socioeconomic and provide a legal, policy and institutional framework.


Found in West and Central Africa, the Bongo is a forest dwelling antelope now classified as critically endangered due to decline in forest mountain habitats.


Made from dark red Sapele – a good match for their rich chestnut coats, with inlaid contrasting stripes and antlers from utile.


Native to the savannah and forests of tropical Africa, chimpanzee’s are now endangered with habitat loss being one of the most significant factors.


Made from Iroko with a contrasting face and chest in Utile, both of which are native to African forests.


The forest elephant is perhaps the lesser known species of African elephant, living in humid forests of western Africa, in decline due to habitat loss and poaching.


Made from Utile with contrasting tusks.


Native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Sub-Saharan Africa, gorillas are the largest of all primates that are critically endangered.


Made from Sapele with a contrasting face and chest.

TTF Member

Timber supplied through Interholco - with a selective harvesting practice: 1 tree, every 2 hectares (2 football pitches) only once every 30 years.
Harvests and transforms wood with high sustainability standards in a forest 11,600m2, a biodiverse habitat home to thousands of elephants, gorillas and countless other species. 

Tropical Hardwood

Species used for the Forest Dwellers are Sapele, Utile, Iroko and Obeche. 

VPA Country

Timber sourced from the Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
Both countries are in the implementing stage of their Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU / UK.