Tag: urban wood utilization

Romans participate in a didactic urban wood event

Rome Urban Wood WorkshopBY RICH CHRISTIANSON

Franco Paolinelli, who has become our de facto Italian correspondent, shared some info and photos from a recent community event at which some 30 kids got to enjoy the tactile sensation of making things with wood. It was the first of three planned community urban wood workshops in Rome.

“Since 2018 our proposal o conduct ‘Laboratori del Legno Degli Alberi di Roma’ i.e. Roman urban wood workshops, is acquiring popularity,” said Paolinelli, a professional arborist. “In Rome. we have a tree pest, Ailanthus altissima, (tree of heaven, an exotic invasive species) growing all over where maintenance lacks. One interesting result is its wood is great for workshops.

“I collect pruning remains in arboricultural jobs, asking arborist firms to cut them in 30-40 cm long, 3-6 cm in diameter segments. I put them in strong bags and carry them to the workshop site.”

Rome Urban wood workshop“This particular workshop took place within ‘Parco dell’ Appia Antica,’ a huge green area, crossing the whole city of Rome that hosts lots of ancient Roman monuments. It was a didactic, recreational, activity conducted with segments of urban wood, mainly pruning remains. The kids had a lot of fun transforming the wood into objects using tools with the assistance of our experts.”

He added that the event was an opportunity to inform people of the value of urban wood in hopes that they recognize the importance of keeping as much of it as possible out of the waste stream and capitalizing on its carbon sequestration. 

“At the end of the three workshops, we put many kilos of urban wood to use and placing the wood objects the kids made into their homes, and saving them and their carbon from landfills.” 

Rome Urban Wood Workshop 

 

  

 

 

 



Urban Ashes Partners with NextCycle Michigan


Urban Ashes of Saline, MI, announced its commitment as a NextCycle Michigan Partner to maximize opportunities for developing recycling, recovery, and sustainable businesses in Michigan.

Urban Ashes is one of more than 30 Michigan companies, organizations and nonprofits partnering in the program that targets the missed opportunities and wasted natural resources within the urban forests of Michigan. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that Michigan loses about 1.7 million tons of furniture grade lumber valued at $27.6 million to the waste stream each year. Urban Ashes said it is on a mission to help the state dramatically change this incredible missed opportunity.

Urban Ashes is led by Paul Hickman, who recently took on the role to organize the Michigan chapter of Urban Wood Network. has a more than 25-year history in urban wood utilization, including the last 10 years manufacturing picture frames, furniture and other secondary wood products. As a partner with NextCycle, Urban Ashes hopes to maximize the value and environmental impact of underutilized urban wood by collaborating with municipalities and corporations to build “Circular UrbanWood Triconomies.”

NextCycle Michigan is a new initiative of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). It is an idea incubator that provides technical support, expert mentoring, and resources. This program offers an innovative pathway to identify and incubate ideas that will grow Michigan’s recycled materials supply.

NextCycle Michigan is funded through state funds and private and non-profit partnership investments identified through the Renew Partnership Portal. Funding partners sustain the program and increase opportunities for statewide recovery projects.

As a NextCycle Michigan Partner, Urban Ashes is demonstrating its commitment to sustaining the program and increasing opportunities through new projects, partnerships, collaborative efforts, or direct support for NextCycle Michigan Innovation Challenges.

Each year, Michigan landfills accept 6.8 million tons of material, including urban tree removals, that could be recycled. It is estimated that recovering 2.7 million tons of that material could generate $9 billion in potential annual labor income and $33 billion in potential economic output, elevating Michigan’s diversion rate to 45%.

Currently, Michigan has gaps at every link in the recycling supply chain – access to recycling, comprehensive collection and sorting, robust end markets and material processing, and innovative recycled-content manufacturing.

NextCycle Michigan’s diverse membership includes Ice Mountain, Henry Ford Health System, Michigan State University, Meijer, and Goodwill.

Learn more about NextCycle Michigan.

Learn more about Urban Ashes.




House Bill Includes ‘Cooperative Agreements’ for Urban Wood Utilization

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) has introduced the Urban Forest Act of 2021, which includes provisions for incentivizing urban wood utilization.

The Urban Forests Act of 2021 would enhance and maintain urban forests across the nation by creating a competitive matching grant program that leverages the success of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Program and creating new jobs in urban areas focused on innovative new wood products and urban forest management.

The Urban Forests Act of 2021 also makes carbon sequestration a priority and increases funding for the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, improves data collection on urban forests, and enhances urban forestry research by coordinating existing programs. Urban forests are important sources of carbon sequestration and sequestered nearly 130 million metric tons of carbon in 2018. 

Section 2 of the bill proposes urban and community forestry assistance programs for urban wood utilization. They include:

  • Pilot project for cooperative agreements for urban wood utilization through which the secretary of agriculture can enter into agreements with state and local governments, institutions of higher education, private or non-profit organizations, and other entities that support projects that create wood products from dead and fallen trees in urban and community areas.
  • These cooperative agreements would put a priority on supporting local job creation; supporting typically underserved areas or areas with a low tree or environmental equity; develop new uses for dead and fallen trees; and improve urban forest health and resiliency.
  • The secretary of agriculture may provide technical or financial assistance to entities that enter into a cooperative agreement to facilitate research on new uses for dead and fallen trees in urban and community areas; and market expansion opportunities for products made from dead and fallen trees in urban and community areas.


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 Forest Connections: More Than 60 Webinars Served

The December 2019 Urban Forest Connections webinar included a presentation of urban wood certification by Jennifer Alger of Far West Forest Products and the Urban Wood Network.

Since the first Urban Forest Connections webinar – Urban Forests for Human Health and Wellness – was presented on Sept. 10, 2014, the U.S. Forest Service’s National Urban Forest Technology & Science Delivery Team has organized and produced more than five dozen webinars dedicated to a wide range of urban forestry topics.

The most recent webinar, Extreme Events in the Urban Forest: Assessment, Response, and Recovery, was conducted on Feb. 10.

The next webinar, Tree Equity for Climate and Health: State and Local Applications, is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 10.

The Forest Service’s Urban Forest Connections webinar series brings experts together to discuss the latest science, practice, and policy on urban forestry and the environment. These webinars are open to all. Past webinar presentations and recordings are available below.

Each of the webinars features experts who discuss the latest science, practice, and policy on urban forestry and the environment.

The entire Urban Forest Connections webinar series is archived for on-demand viewing on the Forest Service’s website.

Two of the archived webinars have had a distinct urban wood theme, including:

Scaling-Up Your Urban Wood Opportunities: A Role for Everyone
December 11, 2019
Kathryn Fernholz, Dovetail Partners, Inc.
Jennifer Alger, Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods

Remove and Repurpose: Increasing the Value of Urban Wood
December 9, 2015
Steve Bratkovich, Dovetail Partners
Dave Gamstetter, Cincinnati Park Board

Other Urban Forest Connections presentations have delved with a variety of urban forestry topics. Here are just a few examples: 

A Call to Action for Ash Tree Conservation and Resistance Breeding
March 11, 2020
Kathleen Knight, USDA Forest Service
Jennifer Koch, USDA Forest Service
Jonathan Rosenthal, Ecological Research Institute

Breeding and Restoring the Next Generation American Elm
September 11, 2019
Carrie Pike, USDA Forest Service
Leila Pinchot, USDA Forest Service
Charlie Flower, USDA Forest Service

Construction Damage, Severe Storms, and Tree Failure Analysis
September 12, 2018
Eric North, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Larry Costello, University of California Emeritus & Oracle Oak LLC

Tree Selection for the 21st Century
December 13, 2017
Greg McPherson, USDA Forest Service

Climate Change & Urban Environments: Adaptation Through Diversity
December 14, 2016
Leslie Brandt, USDA Forest Service
Justi Evertson, Nebraska Forest Service & Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

The Science and Future of i-Tree
May 13, 2015
David Nowak, USDA Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service applies for 1.0 ISA CEU credit for each live broadcast. ISA credit and certificates of participation for other credentials can be requested at the end of the live broadcasts. CEUs and certificates of participation are not available for watching recorded webinars. 

Sign up to receive announcements of future Urban Forest Connections webinars.

 

 



Urban Wood Network’s Future Visioning Webinars Available on Demand

All five parts of the Urban Wood Network’s (UWN) 2020 “Future Visioning” webinar series presented to date are available for on-demand viewing.

The webinars were held on a monthly basis from March through July, 2020. They include an overview of the UWN’s most recent accomplishments and plans, as well as a discussion of urban wood lumber standards, business strategies and more.

Each of the webinars is geared toward supporting the needs of the entire urban wood chain including municipal managers, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers and advocates.

Webinar #1: The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning
The Urban Wood Network presents its vision to bring together urban wood industry members to inform, collaborate and connect to build community, business, and consumer confidence in the industry. 

Webinar #2: Urban Lumber Standards
Learn about new North American standards and chain-of-custody certification of urban wood and how they will build confidence in architects and designers to spec locally grown urban wood products.  

Webinar #3: Urban Lumber Business
Discussion of how to start or grow a successful urban lumber business including marketing strategies and utilization of the new industry standard and chain of custody certification.

Webinar #4: What to Do with the Rest of the Tree(s)
This webinar gives a broad spectrum of examples of products that have been produced from “non-log” trees and portions of trees throughout the country.  

Webinar #5: Forming a State Organization: Nebraska Urban Wood
Learn how urban wood stakeholders in Nebraska have come together to create Nebraska Urban Wood. Included is an overview of Nebraska’s existing urban wood using industry, municipalities and tree service involvement, potential funding sources, organizational structures, and recent organizational efforts.

Learn more about the Urban Wood Network, other archived webinars and the benefits of becoming a member.

 



Video: Urban Wood Rescue of Sacramento

KCRA reports on how Urban Wood Rescue repurposes trees at the end of their life in Sacramento’s urban forest.

Urban Wood Rescue boasts that it has diverted approximately 200,000 board feet of lumber from the landfill. The lumber was milled from trees removed at the end of their lifespan in Sacramento, billed as the “City of Trees.”

Urban Wood Rescue is a program of the non-profit Sacramento Tree Foundation, dedicated to creating and sustaining a healthy urban forest in Sacramento through tree planting, education, and community programs for more than 40 years.

Local TV station KCRA, broadcast a feature about Urban Wood Rescue’s efforts to repurpose trees, which after being milled and dried, are sold as lumber and slabs to local woodworkers and artisans. KCRA’s feature includes interviews with Bethany Hannah, program director of Urban Wood Rescue and Mike Coffey, owner of Coffey Custom Builds.

Learn more about Urban Wood Rescue.



Urban Wood Use Action Guide Is Chock-Full of Resources

Photo: Urban Industrial NW

Vibrant City Labs has created the Urban Wood Use Action Guide, a new web-based platform dedicated to helping communities develop plans to utilize urban and deconstructed wood.

“Using recovered and fresh-cut urban wood to build and sustain vibrant communities.” is the site’s tagline.

Highlights of the guide include: 

  • Case studies, such as how Elkhart, IN, created value for urban wood in the wake of the emerald ash borer invasion.
  • Research on economic impact, waste management, product reuse and other urban wood topics.
  •  Urban Forestry Toolkit, a curated index of digital tools, apps, and calculators for urban forestry.
  •  Ssearchable library containing a curation of research papers, guides, ordinances and other resources deemed most helpful in making the case for urban forestry or making it happen in a community.

Access the Urban Wood Use Action Guide.



‘Upcycle Urban Wood’ theme of Arbor Day Foundation Bulletin


The Arbor Day Foundation shined a bright spotlight on urban wood uitlization in its July-August edition of Tree City USA, a bi-monthly publication focused on tree care, urban forestry, replanting, arboriculture and more.

The most recent edition of Tree City USA bears the headline: “Upcycle Urban Wood: Putting Urban Tree Waste to Work.”  The abstract summarizing the bulletin reads, “Although it is the mission of the Arbor Day Foundation to inspire the planting and nurturing of trees, a fact of life is that some trees come down. It may be on their own due to storms, and sometimes it is through management practices as trees succumb to insects, encroach on wires, or become dangerous. What happens next is also part of good stewardship. This bulletin highlights all the ways people are putting tree waste to good use.

The bulletin is circulated to Arbor Day Foundation donors and also can be downloaded for $3 by clicking here.

 

 

 



How to Get Your Urban Wood Business Featured

Aspiring to inspire, that is one of the missions of Illinois Urban Wood.

For the last four years, this website has featured profiles of urban wood entrepreneurs across the country and Canada. Their profiles and urban wood projects also have been included in the monthly Illinois Urban Wood Update that is sent to nearly 1,000 subscribers.

Getting your business and projects featured is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Send me one to four photos of a project or projects to richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.
  2. Include a brief description of the project or projects. Even bullet points will suffice.
  3. Include a link to your website if you have one.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Rich Christianson
Editor
Illinois Urban Wood