Trees have their natural cycle; they grow, they live, they age and die; it is upto man to manage the forest in such a way that it does not deteriorate. When a tree has reached its full potential and begins to decline, it must be replaced otherwise it will begin to damage others, it will not be usable and therefore a waste of raw material. When mature trees are harvested, sunlight returns to the forest floor and stimulates the rapid growth of saplings. Within four to five years, a hardwood sapling can grow to 15 – 20 feet in height. Millions of trees of all types are selectively harvested and put to constructive use each year, while millions or more are planted or sprout naturally from seeds, tress stumps and roots. By enhancing the natural life cycle of the forest, the world can be assured of a predictable, reliable and sustained timber supply for future use. This form of forestry has not yet been universally adopted but it is undoubtedly becoming widespread. A managed forest reproduces itself yearly, and the volume of raw material being used by the industry is below this.
Once a tree is harvested, modern manufacturing processes assure that virtually nothing is wasted. Almost 98% of a tree is put to practical sue. In addition to the lumber that is produced, a tree’s bark can be used for fuel, mulches and soil conditioners. Trimmings are processed into a wide variety of wood products, like maybe the paper that you are reading now.
Engineered wood is a better use of wood. It uses less wood to make more wood products. Also, almost the entire tree is put to use. The clean and straight trunks are veneered, the deformed trunks are used for sawing, making parquets etc. while the branches and grossly deformed trunks are pulped or flaked to produce fibreboards, etc. For example, let us take an oak log, exactly one cubic meter in size. Approx. 750 sqm. Of usable veneers are produced when sliced into 0.7mm leaves. About 50 bedroom cabinets, veneered on both sides, can be produced from this amount of veneer as well as carrier material. However, should this oak log one cubic meter in size be cut into 25mm thick boards for solid wood furniture production only approx. 30 sqm of usable boards will be realised. This is a quantity just sufficient to produce no more than two such bedroom cabinets…..
In the past, wood as a raw material was used for its low cost and free availability, factors which have caused the impoverishment of the heritage. Today wood is no longer the cheapest product, but it has become a precious raw material which is respected and cherished