Why Use Sustainable Woods
Using sustainable woods is not just important; it's the right thing to do. Don't get me wrong, I once worked with a piece of Snake Wood from Suriname, South America. Some consider this the rarest Wood on the planet, and I can tell you it is gorgeous. But knowing what I do now, I should have been asking if the Wood was from a sustainable crop. To keep it simple, by sustainable I mean is one or more trees planted for every tree that is cut down.
The largest global timber companies have learned over the years that they need to replant trees after they harvest the timber from their existing land. In this way they have timber generation after generation. In some areas of the world timber companies have gone as far as to create Timber Plantations growing trees in straight lines like corn.
There are some draw backs to tree farming, as timber companies will usually plant and harvest trees that are relatively fast growing and may even use artificial means to help the growth. Fast growing trees are more susceptible to disease and are more brittle than slower growing varieties. This leads to a final product that is less stable than old slow growth timber.
If you look at wood that is being produced today and compared it to a one hundred year old piece of the same species you would notice that the growth rings on the old wood are much tighter than the new wood.
The need for more and more Wood has given rise to an alternative material that is actually a grass and that is bamboo. It can replenish itself in five to seven years compared to hardwoods that can take thirty or more years. Also when bamboo is harvested the roots stay intact limiting soil erosion and allowing new growth from the roots.
We have all seen bamboo flooring or cabinets that are more about esthetics than structural. However, new manufacturing techniques allow for bamboo to be used to construct Joists, Beams, I-Beams, Plywood, and even dimensional lumber. Most of these products are used in the country where the bamboo is grown due to transportation and manufacturing costs, leaving the rest of the planet to focus on timber.
Are We Running Out of Wood
Our planet has just short of seven billion people living on it, and although some countries have been transformed from an agrarian society to an industrial society a few of the most populated countries in the world such as China, India and Brazil are currently in the process of full industrialization.
One of the unintended consequences of post industrial society is the ease at which natural resources are consumed and in some cased discarded.
The earth's total forested area was just over 31 percent in 2010 equal to about 9.8 billion acres. Russia, Brazil, Canada the US and China represent more than half of that total. However the conversion of forest to agricultural land in some areas like Brazil and Indonesia, as well as sever drought and forest fires in other areas, has led to a decline in the amount of global forest. To some degree this has been off set by purposeful tree planting on a large-scale which according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has slowed the loss of forest but we are still losing approximately 12.8 million acres a year.
The bottom line is forests clean our air by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants and releasing oxygen. Trees also absorb carbon and can store it indefinitely. Wood and Wood products use less energy to produce then steel or concrete and have fewer unintended environmental consequences. So the next time you want to build something think Wood and then go the one step further and make sure the Wood you use is from a sustainable source and not helping to deplete our forests.
Posted by Admin
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production. Lumber is supplied either rough or finished. Besides pulpwood, rough lumber is the raw material for furniture-making and other items requiring additional cutting and shaping. It is available in many species, usually hardwoods. Finished lumber is supplied in standard sizes, mostly for the construction industry, primarily softwood from coniferous species including pine, fir and spruce (collectively known as Spruce-pine-fir), cedar, and hemlock, but also some hardwood, for high-grade flooring.