The Lifecycle of Timber

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THE SECOND- AND THIRD-GROWTH FORESTS HARVESTED IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST THESE DAYS ARE MADE UP OF YOUNG TREES LESS THAN FIFTY YEARS OLD. THEY MOSTLY COME FROM PRIVATE LANDS AND HAVE BEEN CAREFULLY CULTIVATED. WHILE THEY MATURE FROM SAPLINGS, THE TREES PULL CARBON DIOXIDE FROM THE AIR AND REPLACE IT WITH OXYGEN WHILE SUPPORTING A DIVERSE ECOSYSTEM. WHEN THE LOGGING COMPANIES ARRIVE, THEIR SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY PRACTICES MIMIC NATURAL PATTERNS OF DISTURBANCE AND REGENERATION, CAUSING MINIMAL DISRUPTION TO THE SURROUNDING FOREST. ONCE THE TREES ARE COLLECTED, THE COMPANIES PLANT MORE TREES THAN THEY TOOK OUT, ALWAYS WITH AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE.

The freshly felled lumber is loaded onto trucks and transported to nearby modern sawmills, paper mills and pulp mills. There, a particular focus is placed on ensuring that virtually all of the wood is transformed into useful products. Items that once were considered waste such as sawdust and bark are converted into fuel to power the operation. Nowadays, these facilities use considerably less energy than they did just a few decades ago.

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Freshly fallen timber is loaded onto log trucks for transport to the sawmill.

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freshly milled rough-cut timber

The trees that the loggers felled soon enter society as new products. The cellulose from trees is used to make rayon, a standard product found in bath towels and disinfecting wipes. The cellulose gum pulled from timber is found in toothpaste, cake mixes, and detergents. Even LCD screens contain a product derived from wood. Then there are the more common items from timber such as cardboard packaging, paper, lumber, and the pressboard found in so much furniture.

To close the circle at the end of their lives, most products that come from trees can be recycled or turned into compost, keeping them out of our landfills. Considered one of the most renewable resources on our planet, the trees that grow in our forests can benefit humanity for eons if cared for correctly.