18-0917 v3.X Use of Non-FSC Rattan In Australia 3.x


For the last 2 years, extensive work has been undertaken on a residential project at 3 Leighton Court, Toorak in Melbourne, Australia. The interior of the house is defined by a local, durable and natural palette of materials including reclaimed and certified timber. Continuing this theme of natural materials, the first-floor balustrade is proposed to be hand woven in rattan. The incorporation of handmade elements continues the project architectural practice’s interest in engaging with local trades to push their traditional expertise into original areas of design and detail. The rattan is proposed to be woven by Angelo Rusak and his father who come from a multi-generational artisan weaving family.

The project team is seeking an exception for the use of rattan in relation to Imperative 12 – Responsible Industry.

The project team has undertaken extensive research with rattan suppliers in Australia and overseas to identify an available source of FSC certified rattan. A search of the FSC Public Certificate search database was undertaken including under the N4.1 Rattan cane (rough form) and N4.2 rattan taper (clean peeled etc) fields.  The N4.1 Rattan cane (rough form) searches resulted in a large number of suppliers with many of these listing non-rattan species and companies who do not actually supply rattan itself. The N4.2 search resulted in a smaller number of actual rattan suppliers who were contacted by the project team. These included Kolibri, Eurobaustoff and BauXpert Christiansen in Germany and Danlao in Laos.

However, our extensive enquiries with FSC certified suppliers have proved unsuccessful. Potential suppliers have either not responded or have advised that they are unable to supply rattan for the project. Therefore, it is currently not possible to source any FSC certified rattan for the project. None of the searches and related enquiries undertaken by the project team have identified a supplier of FSC certified rattan in Australia. There are Australian suppliers of rattan that is suitable for weaving but none of this rattan is FSC certified or salvaged.

Rattan is an important part of the proposed project design and so the project team are requesting an exemption to allow the use of non FSC certified rattan in the project. This exemption request is made on the following grounds:

1.     Imperative 12 under timber requires all wood to be salvaged or FSC certified. By definition we would argue that rattan is not a wood. Rattan is the name for roughly 600species of climbing palms belonging to subfamily Calamoideae (from the Greek 'kálamos' = reed). Rattan is a liana (ie a vine) rather than a true wood. Therefore, rattan should not require FSC certification under the Living Building Challenge requirements.

2.     The extensive enquires undertaken by the project team have demonstrated due diligence that FSC certified rattan is not available to the project. Even if a supply of FSC certified rattan could have been sourced it would have to be specifically imported from outside Australia

We are looking to confirm that it is acceptable to use non-FSC raw rattan sourced as locally as possible for the project. While a synthetic alternative product has been considered it would not support the project’s goals of using natural materials and integrating traditional craftmanship in the design.


The FSC requirement applies to all wood, and other wood-like materials (bamboo, rattan, etc) for which FSC certification exists. Since there is not a functional or cultural necessity to use rattan, the team may want to look for an alternative material. If the use of rattan is critical to the project, the team will need to meet the criteria of an existing Imperative 12 exception. In order to consider a new exception for non-FSC rattan, the team would need to make a case for why rattan is important, show there is no available FSC rattan (e.g. through a letter from FSC staff) and make a case that the sourcing of the non-FSC rattan meets the intent of this Imperative. 
Note that this link from 2017 shows FSC certified rattan in your region: https://ic.fsc.org/en/news-updates/id/1905

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