Or more accurately, bottom-to-top.
Most people understand that a tree can be used to make different types and grades of furniture, cabinets, lumber and paper. But what many do not realize is that, in many cases, a single tree may provide all of these useful products – and more.
To understand this, it is helpful to think from the bottom up.
The large diameter base of a tree’s trunk may be used to produce fine veneers for doors and tables. Moving up the trunk, the tree’s wood may be used for cabinets, hardwood floors, stairs and furniture.
Moving farther up the tree, the wood quality lends itself to making products such as shipping crates and pallets.
Finally, the same tree’s branches (along with the leftover wood from making the products above) may be used to produce pulp, paper and personal care products.
But that is not all. The bark from the same sustainably harvested tree may be used for landscaping, or it may be used as a renewable fuel that displaces the need for fossil fuels.
In addition, a variety of natural chemicals are often extracted from the same tree – chemicals that are used in making flavors, fragrances and even food. One of these chemicals, lignin, is the most widely available natural polymer on Earth, and is now being researched to make high-quality plastic components in automobiles, replacing some of the chemicals derived from fossil fuels.
And if that is not sweet enough, the sugar maple trees that Domtar has in Quebec are used to produce maple syrup each spring!
Our efficiency in using every part of the tree
to create useful, renewable products is being enhanced
today with new technologies.
Foresters are now using drones and geographical information systems to monitor tree growth, and to ensure that appropriate amounts of harvesting residuals are left behind to promote good forest health. They are also employing new “cut-to-length” processing systems to cut wood precisely for its optimal value before it even leaves the forest.
We think efficient use of renewable wood resources is something to cheer. So, “bottoms up!”