Forested areas that provide wood are resources that must be carefully managed to ensure a continuing supply for the current population, as well as an increasing population in the future. Harvesting wood to ensure sustainability requires a careful evaluation of current resources and accurate growth data on various types of trees, in order to determine how much can reasonably be used in the present and what amounts need to be replenished for future use.
The Growing Move Toward Sustainability
A “sustainable yield” of a natural asset like wood from forests is defined as the amount that can be extracted without diminishing the base of capital itself. That is, you should only be removing an amount that can be restored within a reasonable amount of time for continued use. In the case of trees, the time frame can be significant, particularly when calculating woods that take many years to develop.
Choosing Sustainable Woods
Choosing woods for building needs depends on the type of wood used and the growth rate of the trees in question. For example, oak and hickory trees take hundreds of years to achieve full growth, although many are harvested before their maturity. In contrast, birch and pine take one-third to one-half as long as oak to reach maturity. Cherry trees and maple trees have fairly short lifespans. These trees have varying color tones, which may go in and out of style. However, if you choose woods that have a shorter lifespan, they will be able to be regrown more quickly. Bamboo, which is actually a grass, not a tree, is a versatile and sustainable wood that can be used for many different building purposes that does not deplete the hardwood forests.
Improving Forest Sustainability In the Future
Forestry is a long-term enterprise that requires considerable thought about the market needs and prices of today, as well as the preserving a dependable store of wood for the future of quality home furnishings. As the forestry and wood industries go forward, greater emphasis is being placed on composite products that reduce the amount of wood that is used. Countries are putting more thought into how forest lands are used for recreation and have begun instituting programs and building strategies that minimize the damage to forests. In addition, conservation services are working in tandem with owners of forestland to implement restoration programs that will help to maintain adequate tree growth for the future years.
As the public becomes more educated on the importance of forest areas in the health and well being of the human population, sustainability in building will be the norm, rather than a new idea. Individuals who are currently involved in building properties can advance the progress of sustainable construction practices by taking active steps to choose woods that easily replenish the supply of usable trees in the environment. These steps will help maintain a healthy supply of wood for the generations to come.