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December 2014

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Sustainability: 5 Things to Make Logging More Sustainable

Written by , Posted in Heat, Power, Shelter, Sustainability, Sustainable Agriculture, Technology

5 Things to Make Logging More Sustainable.

Wood begets many things. It is the paper we read every morning with our breakfast and the table that breakfast sits on. Wood probably makes up the walls around you and the roof over your head. Wood likely played a part in your school, your work, and even your yoga studio. Hell, wood is the only ingredient you use to wipe your arse when you go to the bathroom. And even children know that everyone poops.

Logging, like agriculture isn’t inherently evil, but the heated conversations that persist over the industry would make you think so. Proponents on both sides are passionate about their argument with some in either camp falling to darker tricks of misinformation. What is certain is that there are many elements to managing our forests that include the forestry industry. When it comes to those practices, there is no question that there are good and bad loggers. The question we have to ask is what things we can do to make it easier, faster, better, and more sustainable.

1. Live Smaller

It’s a simple idea, but could you imagine living in smaller homes? In North America where there is more land than people we don’t understand the concept, but in Europe your neighbour isn’t just across the yard, you don’t have a yard. It’s a luxury to live in a house large enough that you don’t need bunk beds, and don’t even think about a cottage unless it’s the name you’ve given your house. By the way, thinking we can just exchange the wood for another material, wood is actually one of if not the most sustainable building material. Just switching it out has our environmental considerations.

It doesn’t stop there though. I am loathe to say it, but the digital world has rung the death toll for the printed book already, people like me just have to accept it. Less paper, means less pulp. And no one thinks we should give up the Boreal forest just so we can get the flyer’s every Thursday night.

2. Be More Efficient.

The thing about logging is that there’s a lot of trash. First there’s the limbs, but leaving them in the forest is a good thing. The trash I’m referring to is the cut off ends. So we can turn them into partial board for floors or roofs, but why not something a little better for the world. Biodiesel can be derived from many sources, but could you imagine if the cut off scrap could go to powering the machines that cut the trees down in the first place?

3. Replanting

Have you ever seen the aftermath of a forest fire? It’s grizzly. What’s left of the trees stick out of the ground like banners to an ancient battle. It is scorched earth, no life left. When you come back in five or ten years however, the landscape has changed. Here and there, trees have appeared as though by a divine hand. They sprout from the death like magic, returning life to the once beautiful forest. The ground is just as barren as the hack and slash handiwork of loggers who aren’t inclined to work sustainably. So, why don’t we plant some trees? I don’t mean like they do in South eastern Ontario. I mean plant hundreds of thousands of trees. Repopulate the world’s forests before they go up in smoke. And before you try to plant pines everywhere, I’m referring to variety of trees, not a monoculture.

4. Plantation: When Forestry Becomes Farming

This process has been embraced in Europe. The forest isn’t just managed, it’s MANAGED. You don’t just run off willy nilly and cut what you think is needed or what will make you the most money. Someone has a grid and trees 35265 through 36264 are harvested while saplings 11135265 through 11136265 are planted. Everything about the plantation is controlled so fires don’t happen and bugs don’t get in. They know the instant a tree is big enough and nurture every tree appropriately. The interesting thing about these plantations is that they can make them more efficient by planting trees exactly so and by planting trees that grow like weeds. In a flash we have miracle grown trees to start over. Oh could you imagine who would be up in arms if our houses were built with GMO trees?

5. G.M.O

Wait, G.M.O is an option isn’t it? Why don’t we enhance the growing potential of our fibrous building material? We could make it grow faster and bigger and stronger and even more environmentally friendly. With fast growing trees we could repopulate our carbon filter, grow our houses, and save the world in one fell swoop. Cheque please.

Forestry isn’t evil. It has its place. Our place is to make it as sustainable as possible. Agree?