07Mar 2016

What is Sustainable Forestry?

Posted in: News  –  By Patchett Joinery

At Patchett Joinery, our commitment to sustainably sourced wood is something that we take immense pride in. Because of that, we’re often being asked to explain exactly what sustainable forestry is. So, in an effort to clear up the question, we’re republishing this classic post from the archives.

Since humans have been around on this planet, we have been using wood to produce things. From fires to greetings cards, wood has been central to the advancement on the human race for hundreds of thousands of years. Sadly, human demands on this once plentiful resource are seriously damaging its existence on this planet, and work has begun to ensure that we can retain wood stocks on this planet. Throughout the years many ideas have been suggested about how to go about this, but only one had really taken off – sustainable forestry.

Sustainable forestry as we know it today owes its existence to the “Forest Principles” adopted at the UN conference for environment and development in Rio in 1992. These principles were manifold, but some key ideas stand out. Firstly, all countries should take part in the so called “greening of the world” through the planting of new trees and secondly all deforestation should be consistent with sustainable redevelopment. These two ideas are key to understanding sustainable forestry.

In its most simple terms, sustainable forestry is about planting a seedling for every tree cut down for the use of production. As such, whole teams of planters are employed to constantly nurture seedlings and replant them in the forest. Most of these systems work on a 30 year cycle which goes as follows

–          Year 0: A tree is cut down for the use of production or development. A seedling is grown in a greenhouse until it establishes itself.

–          Year 5: The freshly established seedling is transplanted into the forest where it will have the chance to grow naturally in its environment.

–          Year 10: The young tree is thinned out every five years in order for smaller trees to receive more sunlight and the forest to be filled with more trees.

–          Year 25: The tree is now mature and almost ready for felling. Sustainability workers will assess the tree each year for five years to ensure that it has chance to grow properly.

–          Year 30: The tree is cut down and the cycle begins again

Through the use of this system, we’re able to continue using trees for our development as humans, but also protect the vital forestry system which keeps our planet functioning as we expect it to. Many business like IKEA are beginning to see the benefits of sourcing wood from sustainable forests, and everything from wooden sash windows to children’s toys can now be had for little more money than their ecologically damaging counterparts. Much of the hard work is still yet to be done in the world, where people at the bottom of society have little other option than to cut down trees and sell them in order to provide food and shelter for their family. Fortunately, the purchase of products from sustainable forests will go some way to proving that there’s a market appetite for wood that doesn’t do immense damage to the world as we know and love.