Tag: urban wood utilization

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Urban Wood Toolkit Offers Guidance for Utilizing Community Trees

The Urban Wood Toolkit was designed to be used by municipal foresters, city managers, community volunteers, or students who are interested in finding the highest and best use for removed urban and community trees.  Using wood from urban and community tree care residues is an effective way to reduce municipal forestry costs and waste, promote stronger linkages with the forest products industry, and produce new economic opportunities.

The Urban Wood Toolkit helps users to prioritize the most important goals and objectives for their community’s wood, recognize the types of information or resources necessary to advance, and identify the types of services that you may need from additional partners. The following toolkit bulletins are currently available:

The Urban Wood Toolkit was developed in 2018 by Verdant Stewardship and Spalted Banjo Consulting through support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Sustainable Resources Alliance, and the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area.



UWN Webinar #1 On Demand: Urban Tree Removals

Urban Tree Removals – Reducing Costs and Promoting Utilization, the first in a series of webinars presented by the Urban Wood Network is available on demand.

Urban forests can be sustainably managed from ‘seed to sawdust’ by capturing valuable urban forest products from urban trees that need to be removed. This webinar shows different models of full circle urban forest stewardship that are used to reclaim urban forest products from those felled trees, and what strategies have been employed to support the reclamation of those urban forest products.

Highlights include:
The social and economic benefits of urban wood utilization
How to develop and implement a removal plan
Tree removal strategies to create urban forest products
How to identify markets for urban forest products
Who to contact for assistance
How to incorporate urban wood into policy
How to partner with an urban wood network to achieve their goals

Speakers:
Matthew Staudenmaier – City of Eau Claire, WI
Matt is the Forestry Department Supervisor for the City of Eau Claire, WI. He leads a team of 5 fulltime ISA Certified Arborists and is charged with the maintenance of over 32,000 street trees. Emerald Ash Borer and diversification of the City’s tree population will continue to be the major challenges facing his Department, along with constricted budgets and labor force. Finding creative solutions while maintaining public trust and respect has been vital to his success, including overseeing implementation of the City’s urban wood use agreement with Wisconsin Urban Wood which allows WUW members to utilize removed trees from the City’s urban wood yard.

Dan Coy – City of Grand Rapids, MI
Dan is the City Forester for the City of Grand Rapids, MI where he’s worked for the past two and a half years. Dan is leading the forestry team to improve the health and vigor of the city forest to achieve 40% canopy coverage over the city through a data driven approach that makes best use of technological advances to maximize safety and efficiency in forestry operations. Prior to working in Grand Rapids, Dan developed an urban forestry program with 3 components – urban wood utilization, community tree planting funded by log sales, and workshops & education in Elkhart, IN.

Kevin LaPointe – Kansas City, MO
Kevin is the City Forester for the City of Kansas City, MO, Parks & Recreation Department where he has worked for twenty-one years. He oversees more than 415,000 city trees which line the streets and boulevards in the 320-square mile incorporated city limits of Kansas City, MO and in the 12,000 acres of land comprising 222 developed and undeveloped parks. Kevin served on the Board of the Mid-West Chapter of the ISA from 2016-2018. He is a past recipient of the Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence, and an Environmental Achievement Award for Urban Forest Preservation for his work with EAB management.

August Hoppe – Hoppe Tree Service
August is the Past President of the Wisconsin Arborist Association, Vice-Chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, and incoming board member for the Tree Care Industry Association. He is the President of Hoppe Tree Service. Hoppe’s Urban Wood Lab Store utilizes urban wood from its tree service division. The Hoppe Urban Wood Lab Store mills lumber and natural edge slabs, selling directly to its tree care clients, and maintains a retail location where urban wood products are sold.

Watch the Webinar
Learn more about the Urban Wood Network’s How To Do Urban Wood webinar series.



How Urban Wood Use Mitigates Climate Change

Sam Sherrill, a household name in urban wood utilization circles, recently presented the environmental benefits of making products with urban wood at a workshop organized by Urban Salvaged & Reclaimed Woods.

His presentation focused on a research paper he co-authored with Steve Bratkovich of Dovetail Partners. The research, Sherrill says, was conducted to show “how urban wood products sequester carbon that would otherwise form the green house gas CO2 when the same wood was used as fuel or mulch. Basically, every pound of carbon held in a wood product prevents the formation of 3.667 pounds of CO2.”

Sherrill shares his “quick way to do these calculations for a range of hardwoods and softwoods… “Individual urban forest product businesses can calculate how much CO2 is not formed by each of their products and for all their products on an annual basis. This directly links urban tree utilization to the mitigation of climate change/global warming.

“Thus, utilizing urban wood to produce solid wood products (instead of fuel and mulch) makes both environmental and economic sense. Both are marketing facts that will be very important to buyers who want products that make the best economic use of an urban resource and, at the same time, make an environmental contribution.”

Sherrill adds that he plans to approach the California Air Resources Board to consider including urban products as part of the state’s cap and trade.

Click here to access Sherrill’s urban wood workshop presentation.

Click here to view the urban wood carbon sequestration research project co-authored by Sherrill and Bratkovich.

Sam welcomes questions and comments to this research project. Contact him at ssherrill50@gmail.com.