Despite what some environmentalists would have you believe (and may truly believe themselves), buying exotic lumber is actually very good for the environment. If you’ve been reading our mini-series about how buying exotic lumber actually benefits the health of Rainforests and, in turn, the global ecological scenario, you’re realizing how beneficial the lumber import industry is to sustaining a healthy earth.
Not only is lumber a renewable, sustainable natural resource, but the lumber industry also provides economic value and incentive for forestry management and replanting. These economics, in turn, promote a healthy ecology through the wonder of biosequestration. This natural cycle of capturing atmospheric carbon occurs throughout a tree’s lifespan and continues when it takes on a new form as lumber. But that’s only the beginning.
Biosequestration & Forestry Management
The wonders of biosequestration and the benefits of forestry management become even more significant when you realize that growing trees capture — or “sequester” — even more Carbon than do mature trees. While mature trees certainly don’t release Carbon into the environment, trees in rapid-growth mode actually absorb vast amounts of Carbon at an extremely aggressive rate. Due to the cumulative effect of this kind of trade off over decades and even centuries, old growth forests actually create a net loss of Carbon.
Now combine these significant fringe benefits of forestry management promoted by the lumber industry with the potential issues connected with the alternative: unmanaged forests. Even if forests aren’t clear cut for other uses such as agriculture or livestock grazing, when they’re left to their own they’ll capture less Carbon than they would if they were undergoing harvesting and the related replanting. Even worse, though, unmanaged forests can easily fall prey to forest fires, which in turn leads to the release of an unprecedented amount of Carbon into the atmosphere.
Biosequestration & Reclaimed Lumber
As much as simply harvesting lumber and planting new trees positively impacts the environment, hopefully we all realize that such a scenario would have no incentive were it not for the lumber industry. But the fact that lumber in the form of trusses or trim, furniture or flooring is still benefiting the environment by sequestering Carbon is pretty amazing, too.
But what about after its usefulness in such a capacity has been exhausted? Maybe that’s when the real wonder of lumber emerges! While the look of reclaimed lumber is definitely on trend right now for many applications, the reality of reclaimed lumber is that it continues to serve the environment around it. While centuries-old barnwood may take on new life as interior shelving or decor, such repurposing serves more than just an aesthetic purpose. (When was the last time you re-purposed plastic or composite materials that were even a decade or two old?)
Of course, there are other types of value added by reclaimed lumber, too. And as amazing as its lifespan and period of usefulness may be, eventually lumber will rot and decay; even then, though, it will not take up space in a landfill forever; instead, it will naturally return to the soil, sequestering Carbon for all time.
Learn More About the Lumber Industry
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods and has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.