How to Get Cheap or Free Hardwood Lumber
The cutting of mature forests in the Pacific Northwest and in Alaska eliminated the habitat for the spotted owl. Great controversy resulted from limits, restrictions, or bans on logging in these forests, which were prized for the high quality lumber that could be made from the trees. These and similar conflicts formed the basis for many studies on scientific, legal, and policy matters concerning the Endangered Species Act in the United States.
Many national governments have established forest and range policies. Rangeland, land that supplies forage for grazing and browsing animals, covers almost one-half of the ice-free land on earth. More than three billion cattle, sheep, goats, camels, buffalo, and other domestic animals graze on rangelands. These animals are important in converting forages into milk and meat, which provide nourishment for people around the world. Forests cover almost 30 percent of the earth and provide humans with lumber, fuel woods, food products, latex rubber, and valuable chemicals that constitute prescription and nonprescription drugs. Rangelands and forests also function as important ecosystems that help provide food and shelter for wildlife, control erosion, and purify the atmosphere. Forests and rangelands have been undergoing destruction and degradation at alarming rates at the hands of humans.
Finally, growing populations naturally demand more products derived from wood, which can include everything from lumber for construction to chemicals used in cancer research. Market forces can drive forest products companies to harvest more trees than is ecologically sound as stockholders focus on short-term individual profits rather than long-term environmental costs. The challenge to foresters, ecologists, and other scientists is to devise methods that allow humanity to continue to utilize the forest resources needed to survive without destroying the forests as complete and healthy ecosystems.
Many of the trees found in rain forests are valued for their commercial use as lumber, while others have been exploited for their fruits or other products, causing much habitat loss. Tropical hardwoods, such as teak and mahogany, for example, have long been used in construction and in furniture. Teak resists rotting and as a result is often used for products that are going to be exposed to the weather, such as garden furniture. Due to teak's desirability as lumber, timber companies are increasingly planting it in plantations for a sustainable yield rather than relying solely on natural forests as a source.
Logging is the removal of timber from forestlands with the intention of using it for a specific purpose, such as lumber, fuelwood, or the production of pulp or chemicals. Clear-cutting is a harvesting technique in which all timber is removed from a stand at the same time.
In a Dark Wood The Fight over Forests and the Rising Tyranny of Ecology. Boston Houghton Mifflin, 1995. Depicts the battle over the old-growth forests of the Northwest. Documents the car bombing of an environmental activist and the buyout of the Pacific Lumber Company. Explores the origins of the conflict from various points of view.
The long, straight trunk of many conifers has contributed to the trees being valued as a source of building materials. During past centuries, millions of acres of white pine forest in North America were cut, first for use as masts on sailing ships, and later for lumber for general construction. Species such as western red cedar, redwoods, and bald cypress continue to be prized for their natural resistance to rot and water damage, while Douglas fir and white spruce are important sources of construction lumber. In addition to being cut for lumber, conifers are harvested for pulp and the production of chemicals. Prior to the introduction of petroleum products, sailing ships required huge quantities of pine tar. Governments would set aside forest reserves as naval stores, which meant that the trees were not to be cut for lumber. The conifers were instead reserved as a source for turpentine and pine tar, which were produced from the sap of conifers such as pitch pine. The bark of the trees...
Clear-cutting is the practice of cutting all the trees on a tract of land at the same time. At one time a standard practice in lumbering, it has become one of the most controversial harvesting techniques used in modern logging. A tract that has been clear-cut will have no trees left standing. With its wind- Selective harvesting, in contrast with clear-cutting, leaves trees standing on the tract. This method can be utilized with even-age plantation stands as a way of thinning them. More commonly, it is used in mixed- and uneven-age stands to harvest only trees of a desired species or size. In cutting hardwood for use as lumber, for example, 12 inches (30 centimeters) may be considered the minimum diameter of a harvestable tree. Trees smaller than that will be left in the woods to continue growing.
Logs are usually cut longitudinally in one of two ways along the radius or perpendicular to the rays (Fig. 6.17). Radially cut, or quartersawed, boards show the annual rings in side view they appear as longitudinal streaks and are the most conspicuous feature of the wood. Only a few perfect quartersawed boards can be obtained from a log, making them quite expensive. Boards cut perpendicular to the rays (tangentially cut boards) are more common. In these, the annual rings appear as irregular bands of light and dark alternating streaks or patches, with the ends of the rays visible as narrower and less conspicuous vertical streaks. Lumber cut tangentially is referred to as being plain-sawed, or slab cut. Slabs are the boards with rounded sides at the outside of the log they are usually made into chips for pulping. In the United States and Canada, about half of the wood produced is used as lumber, primarily for construction the sawdust and other waste formed in processing the boards is...
About half the timber produced in the United States and Canada is used as lumber. Sawdust and waste are converted to particle board and pulp for paper, synthetics, and linoleum. Other timber is used for cooperage, charcoal, railroad ties, boxes, tool handles, and so forth. Developing countries use a greater proportion of their timber for fuel.
Eastern white pines were often used as masts in sailing vessels. In colonial days, the royal surveyors marked certain trees for the use of the Crown, and severe penalties were imposed on colonists who ignored the ban on the use of any white pine not growing on private land. It was, however, legal for colonists to use white pines that had blown down, which gave rise to the term windfall. Eastern white pine wood contains less resin than that of other species and was extensively used for crates, boxes, matchsticks, furniture, flooring, and paneling. By the end of the 19th century, eastern white pines, which originally occurred over vast tracts of the northeastern United States and Canada, had been decimated by wholesale logging done with no thought to conservation. Bald cypress trees in the southeastern United States met a similar fate. White pine blister rust also took its toll. Although new growth is now being promoted, most white pine lumber used today comes from large stands of...
In Central America and the Caribbean, the Swietenia mahogany is found only in a few protected or remote areas. The Caoba tree (Persea theobromifolia) was newly identified as a species as recently as 1977. The lumber is commercially important, and habitat loss has occurred as a result of the conversion of forests to banana and palm plantations. In Ecuador, only 6 percent of the original rain forest remains
On November 1, 2002, John Quigley climbed into the branches of a 70-foot-tall oak tree estimated to be 150 to 400 years old. He stayed perched there until he was removed, 71 days later, to allow a housing developer to cut down the tree. That was a short stay, however, compared with Julia Butterfly Hill's sojourn in a 600-year-old redwood. In the year 2000, Hill created a perch 180 feet above ground and didn't come down to Earth until just over 2 years later, when the Pacific Lumber Company agreed to spare that tree and others in its immediate vicinity.
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