Celebrating National Forest Products Week

October 25, 2019
Weekly Columns

If you’ve driven in Southwest Arkansas for any length of time, you’ve probably gotten stuck behind a log truck for a few miles. These trucks, stacked high with freshly cut trees, represent just one link in a long chain of timber production. As a forester by trade, I always look forward to Forest Products Week each year, since it’s a dedicated time to celebrate the advancement of sustainable forestry from seed to sawmill.

We use wood products every single day. Common household items like paper towels, napkins, tissues or the boxes that deliver our latest online order barely warrant a second glance. More elaborate items like an antique chest or family dinner table can be the focal piece of a home, but we would rarely classify them as a “forest product.” Even rarer still do we think about wood as a source of renewable energy or an innovative product for building design. Yet each of these products – and many more – are the direct result of a vibrant timber industry.

We’ve seen climate scientists propose increasingly radical ideas to combat climate change, yet one of the most obvious solutions is right in front of us: trees. It’s a remarkably simple process. Young trees pull carbon from the atmosphere, capturing several pounds of CO2 each year. At the height of maturity, when trees are holding the most carbon, they are harvested and turned into wood products, which continue storing that carbon forever. New trees replace the old ones, and the cycle continues. In fact, Arkansas forest managers are growing four times more wood fiber than they harvest. These trees purify the air, provide thriving wildlife habitats and improve water quality.

If we want more trees, we should all be using more products made from trees. Timber companies are constituently using innovative techniques to make wood products more affordable and accessible, and I look forward to seeing how the industry develops in future years.