Pound for pound, wood is stronger than steel. Unlike steel, it is also resilient. This combination of strength and resiliency gives wood the ability to absorb the shock of heavy loads providing a greater margin of safety than many other materials.
The conversion cost of wood--the cost of manufacturing products from the raw material--is much less than for any other material. The expenditure of energy for conversion is also less when converting wood. Both these factors are important to potential users who are making decisions on material selection. In construction of dwellings, architects consider that wood has more than 10 times the insulating capability of steel or aluminum and is five times more effective as an insulator than concrete or cinder block.
Wood and wood-based products are the most important of all man's resources for three main reasons. First, wood is universal. It is a raw material that can satisfy almost every requirement or existence. It provides food for man and animals. It is one of the world's most important sources of textile fibers. Wood is capable of producing motor fuels and lubricants. As a building material, wood yields an astonishing variety of plywoods, plastic and wood fiber products that can meet any engineering specification.
Second, wood is abundant. More than eight billion acres, one quarter of the total earth's surface, are forested. The known deposits of oil, iron ore, coal and other minerals are extremely scarce compared to the wood fiber available. Only a small fraction of the world's forest resources is being utilized. An acre of good forest can grow, annually, several times as much fiber as cotton and as much sugar as the same soil planted in sugar beets.
Third, the wood resource is inexhaustible. The forest is not a mine that will be depleted, but a crop...provided that trees are harvested as a crop and the forest is sustained by proper management.