Those who work in the lumber industry often become used to facing uninformed questions or even unfair judgment from those outside the industry. In large part, these questions and condemnations come from those who assume that today’s current foreign and domestic lumber industry runs in much the same way as those industries did in the distant past. They have visions of lumber barons indiscriminately clear cutting virgin forests and recklessly driving environmentally disastrous results.
Some people are confused about whether there is even enough lumber left to harvest, because they aren’t aware of modern lumber sustainability practices. They assume that supply must be extremely limited due to hundreds of years of unsustainable lumber harvesting.
The purpose of this article series is to clear the air, dispel outdated stereotypes and myths, and give a more accurate picture of current lumber industry practices. If you’re reading this and you have a preconceived negative view of the lumber industry as a whole, this article may give you some food for thought. It may even challenge some of your assumptions and give you a new perspective. As there has already been a tremendous amount of focus on sustainability regarding lumber imports, these articles will primarily tackle the topics of sustainability and stewardship in regards to North American domestic lumber.
Negative Stereotypes Often Trace Back to the Lumber Industry’s Ugly Past
If people have a poor view of the lumber industry, that view can often be traced back to the industry’s irresponsible past practices. Forestry practices around the turn of the 20th century were far different from what they are today. Back then, clear-cutting was the norm. In addition to the depletion of forests caused by clear-cutting, those in the lumber industry showed little regard for the surrounding environment when it came to reaching the areas they wanted to clear cut. The results were disastrous indeed.
After completely disregarding the future of these valuable resources for decades, people finally started to wake up to the severe shrinkage of North American forests after the first World War. It was at this time that pioneers in forestry management began coming up with a plan for more responsible, respectful, and sustainable lumber harvesting. They also sought to reverse some of the problems that had arisen as a result of clear-cutting.
That was Then, This is Now
Fast forward to modern times. Thanks to the concerted efforts of forestry management teams, designated forestry zones have once again become vibrant homes to generations of healthy trees. Sadly, some old growth trees that thrived for centuries were removed during the early period of irresponsible, reckless clear-cutting. Unfortunately, the trees replanted in their place simply can’t reach that type of majestic size overnight. That’s why any bits of the virgin forests we still have left deserve careful oversight and management.
In our next article in this series, we’ll take an in-depth look at how modern research and implementation of sustainable forestry practices have made a positive impact on both the environment and the lumber industry.