Search Results for "eco urban timber"

eco Urban Timber Turns Dead Ash into Cash

Eco-Urban-Timber-Light-BoxEntrepreneurial woodworking artisan Julie McFadden launched eco Urban Timber LLC last year upon realizing the potential of salvaging high-value wood from the city of Eau Claire’s urban forests traumatic battle with the deadly emerald ash borer.

McFadden’s entre into the urban wood products business was recently chronicled by VolumeOne, news from Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley.

“Ash is such a beautiful wood, and the maples and some of the other woods that are in the urban setting make really interesting furniture,” McFadden told VolumeOne.

eco Urban Timber participates in the Chippewa Valley Urban Wood Project launched in 2014 as part of a collation of Leadership Eau Claire, the Wisconsin DNR and the city of Eau Claire’s efforts to encourage more recycling of dead urban trees, especially those we are anticipating being killed by the emerald ash borer. The project involves many local businesses that have joined together to provide a wide selection of sustainable wood products.

eco Urban Timber sells its products on etsy. They include the Tree of Life Shadow Box, Yoga Cat Tablet Stand, Eau Claire Beer Caddy and Minnesota Wine Rack.

eco Urban Timber is a member of Wisconsin Urban Wood, which is one of three grant partners with the Illinois Wood Utilization Team. The others are in Michigan and Missouri.



Developer Salvages Urban Timber; Wins Georgia Tree Council Award

Gables Residential Georgia Tree Council Award

Atlanta Commercial Millwork installed the ceiling paneling and millwork throughout the building.

Gables Residential, a national developer and manager of multifamily apartment communities, received the Outstanding New Development Grand Award from the Georgia Tree Council. The award recognizes Gables’ commitment to sustainability and the company’s endeavor to minimize the impact to the tree canopy and surrounding environment. In addition, it highlights Gables’ efforts for thoughtful reuse by recovering, storing, and preserving the trees that were removed from Gables Vinings Village, one of its newest developments in Atlanta, GA,

Gables Residential used the salvaged timber of trees at the Gables Vinings Village site and repurposed them throughout the community. Gables engaged Atlanta furniture maker Madera Arts of Austell, GA, and Eutree to help craft flooring, paneling, furniture, and other architectural wood products from the salvaged timber of the trees for use in Gables Vinings Village.


While the removal of some trees was required to make way for Gables Vinings Village, the company partnered with arborist David Dechant of Arbor Guard to minimize the impact to the tree canopy and surrounding environment. The two groups worked together to recover, store, and preserve the trees from this project. Each of the trees were selected for a specific purpose. The selection criteria is a core value of the project team that allows for intentional design of the product.

Eutree of Villa Rica, GA, was instrumental in milling and drying lumber from the salvaged logs. The company posted a detailed photo essay of the project from log sorting and milling through air drying of lumber and slabs and the phenomenal final installed project. 

See Eutree’s full “Root-to-Fruit” full photo essay.


 

 

 



Bringing New Life to Fallen Urban Trees

Cities in the United States could plant an estimated 400 million trees, making them an essential player in tree restoration. Photo by Vladimir Kudinov/Unsplash

By Todd Gartner and Ben Christensen

The city is a difficult place for a tree to survive. Compared to their counterparts in the countryside, urban trees generally get less water, suffer more intense heat, compete for space with unyielding infrastructure and frequently become riddled with disease and pests. As a result, many cities are stuck with a lot of dead trees every year.

Cities and private contractors cut them down and usually turn them into firewood, mulch or haul them to the landfill. Often, cities replant fewer trees than they remove, leading to a net loss in canopy cover over time.

However, these trees don’t have to go to waste. “Reforestation hubs” are an exciting model that will save these trees from landfills and instead find new uses for them, such as repurposing for furniture or flooring. This can help cities deal with dead trees while saving money, creating new jobs, addressing long-term public health goals and mitigating climate change at scale.

The Urban Wood Opportunity
Restoring trees to the United States landscape offers big benefits for the climate and communities alike. The scale of the opportunity is staggering: landscapes across the United States alone could support 60 billion new trees. This would sequester up to 540 million tons of CO2 per year – equivalent to replacing 117 million gasoline cars with electric vehicles running on clean electricity. The United States could plant an estimated 400 million of these trees in cities. Capturing this opportunity will take financial resources and concerted effort by a variety of public and private partners.

While waiting for government funding or voluntary private sector finance to kick in at a meaningful scale, cities across the country hold a massive and untapped resource. However, this resource is going to waste – literally.

Every year, 36 million trees come down in cities across the United States due to old age, disease and new development, resulting in economic losses of up to $786 million each year. Much of this wood could become valuable products, but instead often gets chipped, thrown in a landfill or burned as firewood. Rethinking urban wood waste could be an unexpected climate and economic solution, turning a burden on the climate and city budgets into a financial engine for reforestation across the broader landscape.

This opportunity is the impetus for the concept of reforestation hubs, pioneered by Cambium CarbonCities4Forests and the Arbor Day Foundation, which will be working with city officials to create the nation’s first reforestation hubs by 2022 through a TNC Natural Climate Change Solutions Accelerator Grant.

What is a Reforestation Hub?
In their simplest form, reforestation hubs are public-private partnerships that save cities money and generate revenue to plant and maintain more trees by diverting downed urban trees from landfills. Instead of going to waste, downed trees are sorted and turned into their highest and best use like furniture, cross-laminated timber, lumber, flooring, compost or mulch. This saves cities money and generates revenue to plant and maintain more trees, building a vibrant circular economy and allowing cities to better combat climate change. In the process, reforestation hubs also support public health and economic growth by creating jobs in green infrastructure through employing people at mills, nurseries and new planting initiatives.

Despite the value urban wood can provide, critical obstacles stand in the way of utilizing them. Cities lack the infrastructure to make fallen trees valuable, and wood product supply chains are not structured around urban wood products. Addressing these two gaps is the first step in creating a functioning reforestation hub. Doing so will require investments in sort yards and mill infrastructure to process incoming wood waste, bringing together city officials, urban millers, artisans, furniture makers, biochar facilities and composting operations. Additionally, it will require building value chains that connect these urban wood ecosystems to the broader market.

Urban wood champions are chipping away at this vision, but with slow progress. Building a reforestation hub requires immense collaboration, and urban wood is a complex raw material to build consistent supply chains around. Reforestation hubs break this log jam by bringing together four ingredients:

  1. City-level commitments to divert wood from city agency and contractor operations, buy urban wood for city operations and establish long-term planting plans.
  2. Private finance from philanthropic and impact investors for necessary infrastructure.
  3. A market incubation platform that drives consumer awareness and leverages technology to connect buyers and sellers.
  4. A social impact mission that reinvests profits from the new urban wood economy into tree planting in reforestation hub cities and the surrounding landscapes.

This vision builds on the work of the Baltimore Wood Project, which creates furniture and other high-value products from dead urban trees and reclaimed lumber from houses facing demolition. Baltimore created a network of suppliers and buyers of reclaimed lumber and invested heavily in Camp Small, a sort yard that can process their existing waste stream and turn it into value.

Growing New Opportunities for City Trees
Reforestation hubs not only bring value through using dead trees, but by creating a path for planting new trees in cities. This comes with numerous public health benefits, including purifying air and water, helping to reduce respiratory disease and decreasing heat. Trees also increase storm water retention to ease stress on city sewer systems.

Tree canopy health often follows wealth and racial lines in cities, depriving underserved communities of these benefits. Reforestation hubs, by applying the principles of tree equity, can provide funds to improve tree health and plant more trees that benefit these communities. They can also provide new employment opportunities through the markets created for previously under-utilized urban wood.

Making the Most of Fallen Trees
With the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, cities may face pressure to defer tree maintenance and replanting, despite the many benefits urban trees provide. At the same time, well-planned reforestation holds the potential to improve the respiratory health of residents and increased urban tree canopies can help cities meet their climate goals. Reforestation hubs offer a multitude of benefits, building new revenue to help fund tree care and planting as well as providing a path to financing broader tree work in cities. As a result, reforestation hubs have immense potential to become economic, public health and climate boons for cities in the face of intersecting crises.

Stay up to date on this exciting work and encourage your city to join the movement here.

This blog was originally published on WRI’s Insights.

Todd Gartner is the director of Cities4Forests and WRI’s Natural Infrastructure Initiative.

Ben Christensen is a former carbon removal research intern at World Resources Institute.

 



Urban Wood Italian Style

By Franco Paolinelli
Silvicultura Agrocultura Paesaggio, Rome, Italy

Editor’s note: I have had the pleasure of corresponding with Franco Paolinelli since January of 2019. He initiated the conversation after finding Illinois Urban Wood in a web search. Over the last couple of years, we have shared several emails detailing our mutual interest in urban wood utilization. What follows is a paper Franco sent me about his urban forestry association’s urban wood activities in Rome. –– Rich Christianson

Logs from trees removed for an outdoor theatre were converted into benches.

OUR ORGANIZATION
Silvicultura Agrocultura Paesaggio (S.A.P.) is a small, non-profit, network of experts and firms, established in 1993 to improve urban green area management and related social and cultural services.  

The association operates mainly in Rome, a metropolitan area with lots of public and private green areas, then with huge amounts of trees to be pruned and renewed, then huge amounts of wood to be disposed.

Within this frame, in 2004 SAP launched the following project:

 URBAN TREES’ TIMBER: AN UNKNOWN RESOURCE

1) Assumptions

Wood is made by carbon polymers, produced by the plants with water and CO2, with the support of solar energy, through the photosynthesis process. The process releases oxygen in the atmosphere.

More trees equals more wood, which means more CO2 is taken away from the atmosphere and more oxygen us added, as recognized also by the Kyoto Protocol. 

Urban trees produce a huge amount of urban wood: Public and private trees, shrubs, hedges in private and public gardens provide security and support public health. They must be pruned and cyclically renewed. These processes produce urban wood.

Public-owned trees in the City of Rome Italy are estimated to be around 330,000. All trees of the city may be more then 1,000,000. An annual renewal of 1% means producing 10,000 logs that could provide at least 20.000 cubic meters of lumber.

What happens now: Generally speaking, wood companies do not appreciate urban lumber. Their manufacturing needs normally require a steady stream of very homogeneous logs that urban forests cannot provide.

As a result, most unwanted urban wood goes mainly in landfills.

In some cases, the trees are chipped then composted or sold to be used for for energy production. But most of it, particularly large logs and big branches, are just left to decay. This process may wind up converting carbon polymers into a greenhouse gas, maybe CO2 or even worse methane.

 2) TRENDS 

Urban timber quality is increasing: Modern arboriculture and greater attention to urban green resources are producing better quality urban trees. Then, at the end of their useful life cycle, better logs can be realized.

This trend also implies that there is a reduction of iron in trees in terms of nails, screws, etc. As the quantity of iron pieces embedded in urban wood decreases, damage to sawmills and sawblades will likely decrease.

Cities may express a multifunctional market: Urban areas may express increased demand for creative arts and crafts, including those with intrinsic symbolic values based on where the trees lived. There is also the potential to use more of the wood for didactic, therapeutic and training purposes.

All of possibilities may increase the appreciation for uneven logs and branches with unique shapes.

 3) PROJECT

 What could happen: The biggest challenge is changing people to view removed trees not as a waste but as a  resource.

An arborist trained on the subject will see the “resource” already on the tree, while pruning or cutting it in pieces. Then, even with a simple chainsaw, he may be able to produce a resource, in terms of pieces for crafts, art and furniture.

Beyond that,  now a days, portable mills are readily available. These machines can be used to convert logs and large branches into lumber. These operations may also take place where the tree has been removed.

A dying tree removed from a park, may return a benches, tables or playground equipment for the park itself.

Urban timber could be used to produce outdoor or indoor furniture, as well as art and design works or common use objects. Smaller branches could be made into items utilized for didactic and therapeutic activities.

Thus, just leaves, small branches and sawdust would be left for composting or used for energy.

4) URBAN WOOD UTILIZATION IMPLIES POSITIVE EFFECTS

Cultural and social effects:

  • Involving people in urban timber work may help to deliver important environmental messages. For instance: Wood is a sustainable carbon stock. Its use may help in controlling greenhouse gases.
  • Urban wood manipulation may help us, mainly our youngsters, to limit the drift within the “virtual world.” In fact, wood, the first matter humanity manipulated, will help us to remember that we have hands capable to do lots of things in the real world.
  • Several jobs within this field may be implemented by disadvantaged people, providing an inclusive effect.

 

 Environmental effects:

  • Carbon sink: Wood is the carbon that trees assimilate. Preserving wood, as art works or furniture for example, increases carbon sequestration. Its quantity may be defined. 
  • Sustainable energy production: Leaves and other leftovers may be utilized for this purpose.
  • New plantings: Urban timber markets may generate economic resources and motivations to plant more trees at both the public and private scale.
  • Improved maintenance: The urban timber market may motivate better care for trees. A full circle urban Forestry approach may take place. 
  • The availability of valuable urban timber may decrease the demand for tropical tree use. That may provide some help in saving environmentally relevant forests and in reducing import expenses.

Socio-economic effects: Urban timber production and transformation, within a multifunctional urban market, may develop through small and medium enterprises. These businesses can create jobs, along the whole supply chain from the grounded tree to timber production, design, art, didactic, social therapy and so on.

Why urban timber production may be convenient:

  • As urbanized areas grow, then the number of trees, planted and wild, must grow as well. Their required maintenance ultimately implies the production of urban wood. A great part of that may be converted into valuable urban timber. A multifunctional urban market may give a value even to species under-appreciated by the wood industry. 

  • Urban timber may have certified symbolic values based on the site where it comes from. Timber materials may, then become: “Rome trees’ timber,” “Central Park trees’ timber,” Tivoli Park trees’ timber” etc. In a multifunctional market, a board or an object with a certified origin may have an added value.
      
  • Based on CO2 sequestration a professional certification may be associated with a board or an object. Then, for instance, an owner may buy an urban timber dinner table and state to his hosts, “My dinner table is a 25kg carbon sink.”
  • Urban Forests and their timber may become relevant CO2 sinks that a city may include in its carbon balance in line with the Kyoto treaty.
  • New tools are available to produce timber from urban logs.
  • Timber transformation may be multi functional: production of objects, education, social services, therapy, environment, etc.

5) ACTIONS TAKEN

Since 2004 S.A.P. has taken logs and large branches of trees removed in private and public gardens, for safety and health reasons, to produce simple furniture pieces, as well as materials to conduct workshops with children and socially disadvantaged people.

Most furniture piece produced have been accompanied with a certificate stating their origin and a rough estimation of their carbon content.

In 2006 S.A.P. requested the Vatican administration to take the St. Peter Square Christmas tree at the end of the exposition period. S.A.P. used St. Peter Christmas tree logs and branches in experimental productions and workshops. 

In 2016 S.A.P. proposals on urban timber were joined by “A Roma Insieme”, an association focused on jail population support. A training activity was, then, arranged for inmates in Regina Coeli Institute, in 2017 and 2018.

5) PILOT PROJECT

In 2018 an interesting pilot project took place within the Leopardi elementary school of Rome to use trees removed on its land for an outdoor theatre project.

Steps: S.A.P., in the winter 2018 had some meetings with Mr. Giovanni Figà Talamanca, in charge for “Educational Politics” in the I’ Municipality of Rome, presenting him the project “Urban Timber from the Trees of Rome.”

The Giacomo Leopardi school lays in a large garden, rich in Pinus tress. School and Municipality Administration were already on the way to have 12 Pinus (Pinus pinea and P. halepensis) removed to increase garden safety.

Mr. Talamanca was able to link our project and the Pinus planned removal. The School administrations approved our proposal to convert some logs in outdoor furniture and a contract was signed.

The arboricultural firm in charge of the job was able to cut the trees, preserving several logs. The alumni parents’ association was involved to express proposals. The idea of the outdoor theatre was launched and approved. Project guidelines were defined and approved by the school direction.

S.A.P. experts, with a “Granberg” frame mounted on a Stihl machine saw milled 30 logs producing flattened ones, boards and short sections.

A volunteering parents’ group, named for the occasion “log rollers,” participated in locating the logs in the theatre selected site, in assembling the benches, in smoothing and in painting them.

The Theatre: The following furniture pieces were produced and placed:

  • N. 6 big round logs 2m long;
  • N. 19 flattened logs to be used as benches;
  • N. 8 benches assembled with boards on orthogonal sections 30cm high; and
  • N. 20 orthogonal sections sits.

Results:

 1 – For the school and the administration::

  • Reduced costs to obtain the theatre; and
  • Project administrative process definition.

2 – For the parent volunteers:

  • School garden improvement; and
  • Participation, ability acquisition.

 3 – For S.A.P.:

  • Working days;
  • Project administrative process definition; and
  • Urban Timber idea promotion.

4 – For the Environment:

  • Landfill prevented: 5 tons — 30% of the total biomass produced; and
  • Estimated carbon stock in the logs’ theatre: 2,5 tons.

5- For Local Economies:

  • Investment in local businesses.

6 – Development Programs:

  • Interest expressed by local institutions, mainly in the artistic environment, is increasing.

 



Video: NC Urban Wood Sawmill & Vacuum Kiln Webinar

In a webinar recorded on Dec. 1, Avery Earwood, owner of Wild Edge Woodcraft of Rougemont, NC, demonstrates his Timber Harvester bandsaw and iDRY Plus vacuum kiln. He also discusses his company’s role in the North Carolina urban wood movement from tree removal to finished “live edge” furniture. 



Pilot Program in Rome Uses Urban Wood to Curb Kids’ Digital Addiction

By Franco Paolinelli
Silvicultura Agrocultura Paesaggio, Rome, Italy

A school asked the Silvicultura Agrocultura Paesaggio (SAP) (Forestry Agriculture Landscape) association to conduct three laboratory activities for the manipulation of the “Wood of the Trees of Rome,” with primary school students during the 2019-2020 school year.

Project assumptions:

  • To a greater or lesser extent, children 6 to 10 years of age have ready access to electronic devices including computers, video gaming devices, smart phones, etc. They spend much of their free time with these digital tools playing games individually or in digital communication with other players. In many cases these activities are becoming the “focus” of their recreational and social life. Moreover, these kids, in their homes, have plenty of toys, but have limited opportunities for free manipulation and discovery of their potential manual abilities.
  • Consequently, a sort of “digital addiction” is going to afflict millions of kids in developed nations.
  • Having mainly adults with great skills in the virtual world but poor skills in the real world is risky for these communities.
  • Therefore, providing children opportunities to develop manual and creative abilities assumes social and cultural relevance.
  • Workshops may help to open kids’ minds to manual skills acquisition to be, eventually, added to digital ones.
  • Schools can contribute to this perspective, also considering that, as claimed by eminent pedagogical scholars, doing with the hands is an excellent way to “incorporate” knowledge. In fact, all manual activities can offer learning opportunities, in different disciplines.
  • Urban trees and forests may provide huge amounts of wood, in their original form of branch or trunk segments, and other materials such as pine cones and other fruit, berries, leaves … suitable to carry out manual manipulation activities.
  • Furthermore, using these materials leads to positive environmental and economic collateral effects: reduction of materials to be sent to landfills, creation of carbon stocks, jobs, etc.
  • On these assumptions, shared by the school, the described project was born: Rome trees’ wood workshop.

Participants:

1st group: 10 children of both sexes considered “hyperactive,” from various classes;

2nd group: 1 class of the 2nd year, about 20 children of both sexes; and

3rd group: 1 class of the 2nd year, about 20 children of both sexes.

Activities:

  • Handling segments and sections of branches of various shapes and sizes, weighing never more than 400g (14 ounces);
  • Transformation with manual tools such as saw, rasp, gimlet, chisel, cutter with blade length of 1 cm, clamps, wheel brace hand drill.
  • The activity has so far been directed towards the creation of collective objects.
  • Before Christmas: Creation of a Christmas tree with segments and branch sections.
  • In progress: Creation of a train with branch segments 20cm long and 4cm diameter on average.

Origin of the materials
Branches of various sizes coming from urban trees’ pruning and removal. Often, in Rome, companies doing maintenance contracts for public green areas leave debris at the base of the pruned trees for many days. So, up to now, it wasn’t difficult to collect branches and produce laboratory segments.

We added these with segments of boards produced with a chainsaw frame and a small portable sawmill, both available in SAP’s synergy network.

Conducting the workshops
At least three teachers were always involved, but, so far, observers came as well, bringing to a minimum of four adults present each time.

The basic training of these teachers is different, ranging from architecture, agricultural and forestry studies, to artisan experience. The common focus is the willingness to follow the kids in their discovery, each with his own pace and possibility.

Purpose of the activity:

  • Stimulate children to discover their manual skills;
  • Stimulate command / action coordination;
  • Reduce physical world fear;
  • Stimulate group work;
  • Convey to the school community messages, on the importance of trees, including their role in counteracting the greenhouse effect and the possible future development of an “urban timber” economy.

Current results of the project
In educational terms, in line with previous similar experiences, with kindergarten children and scout groups, the activity seems to arouse kids’ enthusiasm. They are fully involved and each tool; each new piece of wood is a discovery. Actual results are encouraging.

The use of wood done so far allows us to estimate that at the end of the course at least 1.5 quintals) (about 150 pounds) of wood will have been given a symbolic value, then removed from the landfill destiny.

We can only begin to guess how many quintals of urban wood could be salvaged on a city scale.



At-risk Youth Learn About Urban Wood

Editor’s note: The following article was written by Lekas & Levine Public Relations.

That buzzing sound recently heard throughout Allendale’s Lake Villa campus was the sound of transformation at work.

Literally, it was a large hydraulic sawmill cutting fallen trees into slabs, the first step to turning those dying white oaks into timeless handcrafted furniture.

In a deeper sense, it echoed Allendale Association’s mission of helping youth who have experienced various forms of trauma and adversity find their strength and capacity, transforming over time into healthy, independent adults.

The new, repurposed wood program is a collaboration between Allendale — a not-for-profit facility for kids with serious emotional, mental and behavioral challenges — and Jeff Clark, owner of Old School Timber Works Company in Libertyville. Clark is passionate about repurposing Illinois’ urban hardwood, as well as teaching life skills to at-risk youth.

Woodworking has long been a part of Allendale’s Career and Technical Education Program, which helps students develop vocational skills. Its wood shop instructor, Rob Serdar, a third-generation carpenter, was seeking ways to develop the program when the opportunity arose.

“Our hope is to expand our students’ imaginations and capabilities,” Serdar said, “while providing locally-sourced, high-quality wood pieces that will bring exposure to Allendale and give students a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

In addition, Clark — whose company provides on-site milling services, sells repurposed lumber and creates custom wood pieces — believes students will benefit from a better understanding of responsibly sourcing their lumber.

The process is known as Tree to Table; i.e., repurposing fallen lumber into furniture and goods rather than dumping and chipping it.

“Over a billion board feet of quality urban hardwood is wasted every year in the U.S.,” Clark said.

“These kids were part of a sustainable process in which they created beautiful, white oak lumber, saving and repurposing a worthy asset. Maybe that’s a life lesson that goes beyond milling lumber.”

One day in December, Clark brought his sawmill to Allendale’s 120-acre, wooded campus. He cut several downed white oaks into slabs, while the wood shop students cleaned, transported and stacked the slabs in preparation for the next step: curing them in Allendale’s new kiln.

The kiln, a large space filled with fans and dehumidifiers that dry out the wood, was funded through a grant provided by the Grace Bersted Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The grant also provided for initial supplies needed to get the program running.

Days after the event, students were still talking about it and itching to get their hands on the wood. Since then, they’ve used it to make several pieces of furniture and decorative home signs. Clark is slated to share tips and techniques in upcoming classes.

As the students’ skills advance, Serdar said, they’ll start building more elaborate tables, shelving and benches, as well as cutting boards, Charcuturie platters and decorative wood signs.

Some of the benches will be placed around campus and donated to the village of Lake Villa. In addition, creations will be sold at Allendale’s community craft and floral sales, perhaps as early as spring.

The proceeds will not only fund the purchase of ongoing supplies, but benefit the students’ vocational stipends. Meanwhile, as salvaged wood products become increasingly popular, the kids are gaining the skills to secure a place in this growing field, along with an appreciation for the environment and a lifelong passion that will serve them well.



Urban Wood Use Gets Thumbs Up in the Land Down Under

Editor’s note: We’re constantly on the look out for good stories about urban wood advocation no matter where they emanate. Our goal is to show that the urban wood movement is alive and well not only all over North America but beyond.

Such is the case about the following article authored by a trio of faculty at Australian National University. 

 

When a tree dies, don’t waste your breath. Rescue the wood to honour its memory

Turning a street tree into timber is much more respectful and useful than mulching it all.
Author provided

Cris Brack, Australian National University; Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, Australian National University, and Rod Lamberts, Australian National University

Trees die. You don’t have to like it, but they do. And this comes as a surprise to some. A senior public servant once told one of us (Brack): “Trees don’t die; people kill them.”

Of course sometimes we kill trees, especially in urban areas where trees are regularly removed for reasons of safety or urban development.




Read more:
Our cities need more trees, but that means being prepared to cut some down


But more concerning than the death of a tree is how we waste them afterwards. In municipalities around the world, the trees are chipped into mulch. Not just the leaves and skinny branches and bark, but the whole tree.

It’s the least valuable, indeed least respectful, thing you can do with a tree.

 

Turning a whole tree into woodchips for mulch is the least valuable and least respectful thing you can do to it.
Author provided

In contrast, the wood can be rescued and used to craft furniture and other unique objects that honour the trees and their legacy of timber.

For those more poetically inclined, trees are literally made of our breath. By chipping them, we are wasting the breath of our past and making it harder to breathe in the future.




Read more:
Trees are made of human breath


Chipping trees means releasing carbon to the atmosphere as the mulch breaks down. It’s also a waste of high-quality timbers such as oak, ash, elm and cedar, which, ironically, Australia imports by the shipload.

When made into furniture, for example, the tree is transformed, the carbon stays bound and we have something both functional and beautiful.

 

Katalin Sallai’s Witness Tree Bench of Kingston (2016), 600 x 450 x 2000mm, Cedrus deodara (Himalayan cedar) from Kingston, mild steel.
Photo by Martin Ollman, Author provided

Urban forests can keep on giving

Salvaging quality timber is such an obvious win-win, you’d think everyone would do it. Sadly, there are many obstacles, including the difficulties of coordinating multiple public and private stakeholders and agencies.

To better understand the challenges and opportunities for urban timber rescue in Australia, we hosted a symposium at Australian National University in September 2019. Forestry researchers, public officials, craftspeople, teachers, students, conservation activists and city parks employees attended. They identified key values and concerns critical to reclaiming and distributing urban timber.

The symposium included a demonstration of how a portable (Lucas) mill could be quickly set up near a tree to cut it into useful timber. Operators can minimise waste by using bespoke cutting patterns to get the most valuable timber from each tree.

 

Street trees can provide valuable hardwood timber that, unlike woodchips, doesn’t release their stored carbon.
Author provided

 

Wood from a street tree is sawn and dried before the timber is given new life as a piece of fine furniture or other useful object.
Author provided

Participants from California described the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Urban Wood Rescue program. Arborists, residents and the city work together to intercept logs from the waste stream. The timber is then made available to the public.

This program benefits from public trust that stems from decades of active tree planting across the city and genuine concern for the health of the urban forest. Recognising that the recovered wood is too good to waste is a natural extension of residents’ respect for their living trees.

Craftspeople and teachers from Canberra and other Australian cities discussed how providing quality timber to school students supports their love of making and develops their skills. One participant spoke of high school students being thrilled to work with such beautiful timber. They normally make do with cheap construction pine or broken-down pallets.

Rescuing and transforming the timber can bring people together to teach, learn and create. The object then captures not just carbon but a sense of the history of the tree and the place where it lived.

This is what the Witness Tree Project in Canberra, spearheaded by Eriksmoen, set out to do. Wood was rescued from just six of hundreds of trees scheduled for removal. The timber was distributed to six local woodworking artisans and furniture makers.

Their task was to creatively reconstruct a narrative of each tree and its neighbourhood. They transformed the trees into unique objects that delivered anecdotes and collective memories of local history and culture, culminating in a public exhibition.

 

The bench references the dimensions of the Himalayan cedar used for its timber.
Photo by Martin Ollman, Author provided

Katalin Sallai created the Witness Tree Bench of Kingston from a Himalayan cedar. The circular planter, containing a sapling of the same species, is the diameter of this tree when it was felled in 2013. The unfurling spiral arc of the bench seat describes the potential diameter of Himalayan cedar in ideal natural conditions.

Many references to Kingston, one of Canberra’s oldest suburbs, are embedded and engraved in the surface, including coins commemorating the queen’s 1954 visit. The bench is both an educational tool, describing the differences between a city tree and a rural tree, and a celebration of its own tree’s life and provenance as a witness to local history.




Read more:
Loving emails show there’s more to trees than ecosystem services


The recent symposium was also told of the positive effects of having living trees in our surroundings, including improved mental health, reductions in crime and better air quality. But this isn’t lost when the trees die. Recent research has shown wooden furniture and fittings in offices or homes can benefit mental health and reduce stress and sick days.

Seeing urban trees given a second life can also help ease eco-anxiety. Every tree removal can add to the sense of helplessness, but putting those trees to good use may create feelings of empowerment.

Four steps you can take

So don’t despair or whine when a tree is removed. Instead, make sure the wood isn’t squandered. Otherwise you are wasting your breath – twice!

Here’s what you can do:

  • raise awareness: tell people trees do die naturally, and city trees have shorter lives than their rural kin

  • demand action: tell your local representative that community trees are squandered on woodchips

  • buy local: buy products made from locally salvaged wood, not imported timber

  • get radical: if you’re the protesting type, chain yourself to a log to stop it being chipped.




Read more:
Where the old things are: Australia’s most ancient trees


The Conversation


Cris Brack, Associate Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University; Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, Senior Lecturer, School of Art & Design, Australian National University, and Rod Lamberts, Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



Green America Honors GA Urban Wood Business

Eutree, an urban lumber business based in Villa Rica, GA, was one of two green businesses to receive the fall People & Planet Award from Green America.

Eutree is a sawmill and lumber supplier established in 2010 to divert what would otherwise be urban tree waste into flooring and other wood products. The company plans to use the $5,000 award to install log collections containers at tree service locations so that it can more efficiently collect them to convert into lumber.

According to EU’s website, the company’s founder Sims Acuff, an arborist in Atlanta, “got tired of throwing away logs… It’s so important that we stop neglecting the treasure of old-growth trees around us and begin utilizing the timber that is being remove from the people’s yard.”

The other fall award winner is Nature’s Magic, a woman-owned business in Athens, GA, that produces plant-based, non-toxic cleaners.

Green America is a non-profit whose “mission is to harness economic power – the strength of consumers, investors, businesses and the marketplace – to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. .



Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide

The Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide is intended to provide starting points for land managers, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers and other stakeholders to join or create urban wood networks. This guide includes local, state and national urban wood utilization groups; state sawmill directories and selected reports, case studies and other publications.

The Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide is a work-in progress and as such is subject to change without notice. This guide will be periodically updated. For listing consideration, contact info@illinoisurbanwood.org.

NATIONAL & REGIONAL RESOURCES

Ash Utilization Options Project

Dovetail Partners Reuse

Emerald Ash Borer Info

International Society of Arboriculture

Reuse Wood

Southeastern Urban Wood Exchange

Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition

Tree Care Industry Association

U.S. Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry

U.S. Forest Service Wood Education & Resource Center

Urban Salvaged & Reclaimed Woods

Urban Wood Network

Urban Wood Network LinkedIn

Wood Education & Resource Center, Northeastern State & Private Forestry

Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer Network

STATE & MUNICIPAL RESOURCES”]TOGGLE STATE & MUNICIPAL RESOURCES CONTENT

Arkansas Sawmill Directory

California Urban Forests Council

Colorado CoWood

Colorado Tree Coalition

Connecticut Urban Wood Utilization

Georgia Arborist Association Urban Wood Reutilization

Georgia Wood-Using Industries Directory (See page 102 for urban wood listings)

Illinois Custom Sawmill Directory

Illinois Wood Utilization Team

Indiana: ElkhartWood

Indiana Sawmill Directory

Iowa: Davenport Urban Wood Utilization

Iowa Directory of Sawmills

Kansas Sawmill Directory

Kentucky Forest Product Industry Directory

Maine Stationary & Portable Sawmill Directory

Maryland: Baltimore Urban Wood Project

Maryland: Baltimore Camp Small Zero Waste Initiative

Michigan Forest Products Industry Directory michigan.gov/wood

Michigan: Southeast Michigan’s Reclaimed Wood Marketplace

Michigan Urban Wood Network

Minnesota Primary & Secondary Forest Products Directories

Minnesota Forest Utilization and Marketing Program

Missouri Sawmill Directory

Montana DNRC Wood Directory

Nebraska Sawmill Directory

New Jersey Sawmill Directory

North Carolina Urban Forest Council

North Dakota Sawmill Directory

Ohio Sawmill Directory

Ohio Wood Products Directory

Oklahoma Sawmill Directory

Oregon: Clackamas Urban Lumber Program

Oregon Forest Industry Directory

South Carolina Forest Mill Directory

South Dakota Log Finder

Vermont Urban Wood & Community

Virginia Urban Wood Group

Washington: Eastern Washington Small-Scale Sawmill Directory

Washington: Western Washington Small-Scale Sawmill Directory

West Virginia Forest Products Directory

Wisconsin Urban Wood wisconsinurbanwood.org

Wisconsin Urban Wood Use Options Directory

CANADA

Ontario: Your Leaf Toronto

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Assessment of Urban Tree Utilization & Forestry Programs of Richmond, VA, and Raleigh, NC

Case Study: i2i Design, Wood Dale, IL

Case Study: Riverside, IL Transforms Windswept Oak into Fine Furniture

Estimates of Carbon Dioxide Withheld from the Atmosphere by Urban Hardwood Products

Manufacturing and Marketing Eastern Hardwood Lumber Produced by Thin Kerf Band Mills

Marketing Urban Wood for Higher Uses in Illinois: Resources for Arborists and Managers

Recycling Municipal Trees: A Guide for Marketing Sawlogs from Street Tree Removals in Municipalities

Tree to Table: The Wood Cycle Story

Utilizing Municipal Trees: Ideas from Across the Country

Urban Forests & Urban Tree Use

Urban Wood & Traditional Wood: A Comparison of Properties & Uses

Using Urban Wood Clusters to Build an Urban Wood Utilization Network

Wood Utilization Options for Urban Trees Infested by Invasive Species