Who presents the bigger problem to sustainability- loggers or tree huggers?
If you want to keep the rain forests from disappearing, protect the global ecosystem, and continue the availability of quality lumber, then contrary to what you might think, you shouldn’t hug the trees: You should actually let them go. Although many people labor under the misconception that keeping trees from being harvested and milled will save forests, this actually isn’t the case at all.
Caricatures from Another Era
Often, those who misunderstand the lumber industry borrow their viewpoints from history. Sure, if every tree harvested for the past two centuries had been part of clear cutting without replanting, we’d be in a major bind. But that’s far from the case.
Back in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, US forestry practices did not keep sustainability in mind. Natural resources were used and abused without respect for the future. After World War I, however, fear of running out of lumber led to active replanting and other forestry management initiatives.
Even after decades of more responsible practices, the old growth trees lost to poor stewardship still impact our forests. Since McIlvain Lumber has been serving US builders for over two centuries, we’ve seen the short- and long-term effects of various practices.
Scientific Reactions to Historical Practices
As forestry science has developed, we’ve learned how to balance and maintain a strong supply with regrowing old growth forests. By keeping some old growth trees in an area, a healthy forest is maintained. Restrictions on clear cutting also help ensure that such forest health continues into the future.
By selectively cutting mature trees, reseeding, and leaving older growth to continue to mature, we’re giving our US forests a promising future. Someday, old growth will be available sustainably, but until then, the kinds of wide and long domestic lumber available during the early twentieth century are unavailable. In time, it will become more than okay to cut down old growth trees. In fact, it will eventually be necessary to do so in order to allow sunlight to filter through to the newly planted ones.
Still, even with conservative logging, we at McIlvain Lumber rarely have customer requests for widths or lengths that we are unable to provide.
Neighborhood Old Growth Forests
Unlike US forests, many Canadian old growth forests continue to thrive. Due to greater land mass and lower population, the kind of irresponsible clear-cutting to which US forests fell prey did not largely affect Canadian forestry.
Today, Canada’s harvesting and replanting standards rank highly compared to most other nations, producing a healthy balance of old growth and younger trees. These well-managed Canadian forests can be excellent sources of many domestic species available from our close neighbors.
Clearly, failing to maintain sustainable practices with forestry stewardship in mind will lead to unhealthy, irresponsible forestry practices. However, banning logging or failing to maintain a demand for quality lumber will similarly lead to deforestation because if the forestry industry is not supported, forests will be clear cut in order to make room for other industries.
This has been proven true in many areas of the world where governments have enacted logging bans on certain forests. When the government restricts logging in an area, the landowner is effectively cut off from their only source of income. Thus, they must find other uses for their land.
In many areas, including rainforest areas, landowners whose property has been subjected to logging restrictions often react drastically. Since they can no longer make money from selling lumber, they simply clear cut, burn, or otherwise destroy their forests to make room for fields for cattle grazing. Given this unfortunate consequence of logging bans and harsh restrictions, it’s clear that sustainable and responsible logging is the more environmentally friendly option.
J. Gibson McIlvain can help you be a wise steward of natural resources by providing you with responsibly harvested, high-quality lumber for your next project, big or small. For over 200 years, McIlvain has been in industry leader, a competitor without rival in the quality lumber industry.
Our dedicated order specialists, who assist customers with their orders from start to finish, and our staff’s unparalleled expertise make McIlvain the go-to source for top-notch domestic and exotic hardwoods and softwoods. And with our vast inventory and nationwide shipping, you’ll never have a reason to shop anywhere else. For more information and to see McIlvain’s full line of products and services, click here to visit us today, or check out these selections from the McIlvain Lumber Blog: