Facts About Wood

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Published: 19th December 2012
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Trees and forests are essential to our lives, from maintaining ecology and the environment, to producing wooden products such as timber cladding and decking. Considering an acre of average sized trees produces enough oxygen every year to sustain 18 people and an acre of fully grown, medium sized trees will remove 6 tonnes of pollution from the air each year, trees and forests are crucial to our existence.

The forest is a stunning environment that provides shelter for wildlife and attracts visitors and tourists for leisure activities. Sustainable forestry is widely practised all over the world and the United Nations were instrumental in guiding and encouraging international commitment to sustainability. A sustainable forest can only survive if the local community can be employed within it so the jobs of managing and maintaining the forest including those relating to tourism are guaranteed whilst the biodiversity and ecology of the forest are protected.

Trees cover 29.6% of the Earths total land area and according to the World Resource Institute there are 100,000 known species. Only 50 of those species are native to the UK, however approximately 1182 species can be found in the US. Astonishingly, on the island of Borneo, approximately 700 species can be found in a 25 acre plot of rain forest! The world’s largest forest is in Northern Russia, a coniferous forest spanning 2.7 billion acres! A contrast to the total of 737 million acres of forest located in the US; just as well the practice of sustainability is widely used there as it takes 57 million trees to provide the US with a year’s supply of catalogues!

The health of a forest depends on sustainable action. When a forest becomes old and over crowded, trees begin to use more oxygen than they produce. A young, well managed forest is more efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Harvesting mature trees allows sunlight to reach the forest floor which helps stimulate the growth of young trees. Like humans, trees have a natural lifespan, once they reach maturity (which varies depending on the species), growth slows down, decay sets in and they eventually die. Felled trees need to be replaced with seedlings so that the diversity of the forest is maintained in terms of age and species. This continuous regeneration process helps preserve the ecology of the forest, reducing negative global environmental impact whilst ensuring the protection of wildlife. So sustainability maintains the health of the forest as well as providing employment and resources for the wider community, it’s a balance between society and the preservation of the diversity and wellbeing of the forest.

Some species of wood lend themselves to external and internal use more than others. Western Red Cedar for example is a beautiful wood that comes in rich cinnamons and sienna browns and doesn’t need to be treated so will fade to a stunning silvery grey. It can be considered the green choice as there is no need for chemical treatment. Natural preservatives within the cedar make it resistant to water, decay and insects so it’s an unbeatable choice of timber commonly used as wood cladding and decking that adds a stylish touch to any home. A native tree of the US, Western Red Cedar grows on the pacific coast from Northern California to Southwest Alaska and its resilience and stability make it the favourable choice for architects and designers.

Another popular wood is Siberian Larch, known in Russia as the ‘The Tree of Eternity’, not surprising as there are homes and churches made of larch that have existed for over 800 years. Siberian Larch was also used in the construction of the ancient city of Venice, a fact that will convince most people of its longevity and value for money!


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