Fact or Fiction: The Truth About Sustainability in American Hardwoods

American hardwoods are harvested from forests nationwide to supply wood for a variety of applications, from flooring and furniture to cabinetry, millwork and more. The use of – and demand for –  American hardwoods continues to grow, raising the question of whether harvesting these trees is sustainable. So, fact or fiction…just how eco-friendly is the American hardwoods industry?

Fact or Fiction? Harvesting American Hardwoods Has a Negative Impact on the Environment.

FICTION. Thanks to sustainable forest management, American hardwoods can be harvested with minimal environmental impact. How? First, American hardwoods are a renewable natural resource, meaning they grow back, so there’s always an abundant and continued supply.

 

Second, by applying best practices for management of these lands and selectively harvesting larger, more mature trees rather than clear-felling an entire area, timber companies can help support the environment by promoting – and protecting – a diverse bird and wildlife population, thriving forest floor vegetation, as well as clean watersheds, not to mention a host of recreational activities, from hiking to biking and beyond, throughout America’s forests.

 

Fact or Fiction? The American Hardwoods Industry is a Jobs Producer.

FACT. From conservation and recreation to timber harvesting and manufacturing activities, the forest products industry supports millions of jobs nationwide. In fact, according to HardwoodForest.org, “forest products companies employ 1.75 million people and are ranked among the top 10 employers in 40 states.”

 

Fact or Fiction? American Hardwoods are Slow to Replenish.

FICTION. The truth is: since the 1940s, more American hardwoods are grown every year than are harvested. HardwoodInfo.com suggests that “since 1953, the volume of hardwoods in American forests has increased 119%.”

 

That means there is always an abundant and sustained supply of timber as forests naturally regenerate via seeds that are produced by, and fall from, existing trees. Thanks to this natural regeneration, there is no need to plant hardwood trees, other than for landscaping and strategic placement activities.

 

Fact or Fiction? Producing American Hardwood Products Generates Significant Waste.

FICTION. Residuals (waste) from the milling of lumber and manufacture of American hardwood products are used for a number of things. For example, bark and wood chips can be turned into mulch and sawdust can be used to power sawmill boilers.

 

Sawdust and other wood by-products can also be converted into wood pellets, helping to keep this waste out of landfills. Prominent in Europe, and growing in popularity in the U.S., wood pellets are a renewable, carbon-neutral source of energy used for power generation, heating and more.

 

Fact or Fiction? American Hardwoods Are Carbon Neutral.

FACT. Through photosynthesis, healthy forests produce oxygen. As they grow, these trees absorb carbon dioxide and then release oxygen back into the atmosphere, while using carbon to grow roots, trunks,

branches and leaves. Carbon is stored by the hardwood for its lifetime, so as trees die and decay, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Alternatively, turning mature trees into hardwood products like furniture, flooring, cabinets and millwork – rather than letting them decompose naturally – contributes to the overall and long-term storage and removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

 

American hardwoods provide beauty and functionality within countless applications and industries. Although there is concern over deforestation and sustainability, American hardwoods are a renewable, naturally growing and sustainable resource. In fact, in 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Congress passed resolutions – which were endorsed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2011 – recognizing American hardwoods as an environmentally preferable, natural resource and green building material.

 

At Northwest Hardwoods, we focus on providing quality hardwood solutions from responsibly sourced wood. This ensures we produce valuable lumber materials that can be used to create beautiful hardwood products.

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