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Okoume - Marine Plywood

Wood has been used in almost all civilizations, for the construction of shelter, early tools ,fuel for the mastery of fire, whose discovery, (an estimated 120-700k years ago), was a building block in our development. Even the earliest human history can be said to have been built on a wooden framework.


As civilization continued to develop, applications of wood grew and branched out like the trees it came from. The Mesolithic period in today's Britain was the first evidence of timber in housing. Later, Egyptians used wood (where they could find it) in levers and sledges to build the pyramids. The Romans' timber cranes lifted massive stones for aqueducts and lofty buildings. Carpenters in the Middle Ages refined wood-working and became sought-after tradesmen.


Yet until very recently man showed little evidence of concern about preserving wood as a resource, only sustaining our own existence. Over the last 150 years, the Industrial Revolution, major steps forward in technology, and modern medicine have helped cause exponential increase in Earth's population and, in turn, a drain on its most precious resources. Few showed any concern at first for the price the future might exact for their present over-harvesting or rampant profiteering. The twentieth century saw movements born to ensure resource preservation and modern times are beginning to show signs of forest stabilization in many parts of the globe.


Today it is a very legitimate question, not to be addressed lightly, how a modern, 21st Century wood products firm is to operate in a globalized world with growing populations that, in turn, lead to a greater demand on natural resources. How does it provide the absolute best quality to master craftsmen while ensuring future generations the same access to the resources necessary to not only sustain life, but prosper?


Shelter Forest’s answer is simple. We continue to commit to our customers that we can have access to these valuable resources and provide unparalleled quality and performance while still protecting them for posterity. That environmental stewardship and sustainable practices in light of a growing global consciousness are integral components of a 21st Century business strategy, reinforcing an imperative for humanity while also being committed to the success of our down-channel partners. That our manifest commitment to the future also highlights our commitment to quality. 

Wood has been a harbinger of progress, a succor during hardship, and sustenance for life itself. Wood and its many uses are integral to man’s story and civilization. And Shelter Forest International has now committed much of its financial, manufacturing and human capital upon the  continent where man and civilization may have originated: Africa. 

We invite you to join us on our journey through the story told in the following pages, from meeting the master craftsmen who are experiencing new heights of TigerPly® quality using our Africa-made plywood products, to learning how we operate with a focus on proper environmental stewardship.

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Beginning in 2017, Shelter Forest International embarked on its most ambitious project to date, establishing a base of operations in West Africa in order to manufacture marine grade plywood to the world’s most exacting standards. 

Despite long, arduous treks through the Gabonese jungles, the daunting road systems, and lack of infrastructure in the interior, the mill we helped retrofit in Makokou province got off to a swift start. As the mill’s location is adjacent to several concessions, SFI was certain that this close proximity would lend itself to utilizing the Okoume veneer prized throughout the world. Managing the jigsaw puzzle of logistics and raw materials to the mill was worth the effort.

After several years of hard work, much of which was prolonged due to the pandemic, we are proud to offer our Lloyd’s Register Certified BS-1088 TigerPly® Marine Grade Plywood.

Our setup allows us the opportunity to manufacture high-end plywood at maximum efficiency, but we also prioritized making a positive impact on the local community. In cooperation with village elders, we built a plan that would assist the village’s population. Our development helps provide water and electricity to the village and employment for its residents and ongoing communication maintains the health of our relationship and the community.

Made In Africa


Expanding Partnerships

The StarPly Gabon partnership, formed in 2019,  has obtained CARB/EPA documentation and is CE2+ and KOMO certified. StarPly now has exclusive distribution deals with some of the biggest names in Europe, the UK, South Africa and Israel. Our joint efforts of product development for the North American market affords an array of products, from industrial,  lamination and jumbo panels to underlayment and specialized niche offerings. Without exception, this is the most state-of-the-art plywood manufacturing facility on the continent.

In late 2020, and in the middle of the pandemic, another long-standing Asian partner worked with us to plan the opening of yet another mill within the year, where our plan will be to focus on thin-panel production. The size and diameter of Okoume logs is ideal for thinner panels and we are confident the ones we will be introducing to the market in 2022 will meet the most exacting industry standards. And with their singular composition  characteristics—whole piece cores, uniform species—they will be unparalleled in the marketplace.




Environmental Stewardship, Sustainability & Forest Management

Over the past several years, we have witnessed numerous infrastructure projects, continuous job creation, and further industrial developments in the forestry sector. These positive economic developments on the forestry front are occurring alongside parallel efforts of environmental and ecological conservation to ensure Gabon’s precious natural resource will be protected for generations to come. 


SFI has worked diligently in conjunction with government authorities, NGOs, and responsible stakeholders to not only improve sustainability measures within Gabon, but also to boost the country’s global reputation. 


Harvesting within the country’s concessions is a very comprehensive process. Concession holders must submit detailed 25-year forest management plans accompanied by five-year harvest plans. Each study must take into account the ecological impact of harvesting and entails a rigorous study of the villages, hunting areas, bodies of water, heritage and tribal sites and the buffer zones necessary to support them.


Most importantly, the required 25-year plan guarantees that there will always be more growth in Gabon’s forest than will ever be harvested. This is one of the most productive and best managed forests we have seen in our travels.

SFI strives to operate under the ideal that sustainable forest management is both ethically responsible and a twenty-first century business imperative, and we are pleased that a growing percentage of our client base is engaging in these matters and pushing back against importers who may have questionable practices.


Gabon’s vibrant country’s forests are being managed sustainably for future generations. Secondary wood-product manufacturing has positive socioeconomic impacts and people. And companies such as SFI can and do take a much broader view – one that is not strictly focused on a dollar-denominated bottom line but instead seeks to preserve resources, develop partnerships focused on sustainable production, and support local communities—all without sacrificing quality.


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Okoume - Marine & Industrial Plywood

With SFIs has mass efforts to develop, nurture, and build a robust product offering out of Gabon. In 2018 we introduced an all-new TigerPly® Marine Grade Plywood to the North American market. This product has been enthusiastically welcomed by distributors and master craftsmen such as Walter Baron of Old Wharf Dory Co. who have enjoyed working with the whole piece, highly stable and lightweight Okoume.

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