Using the whole tree, and not just for firewood

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

All too often woodsmen and coppice workers today can but think firewood and, maybe, a few other things as to the use the trees that they cut, whether in coppicing or general felling operations.

woodsman_smlHowever, aside from the roots – which in coppicing you leave anyway as the new growth comes from them – and the tips and leaves (if any of the latter) the entire can be and should be used for more than just firewood, even though wood fuel, in the form of firewood, is important. Other products, though, are what adds value to the timber.

Producing firewood – logs and kindling – is, obviously, a quick and easy way of turning the wood from the lot worked into some sort of an income. But other products give a much better margin of return and even more so if the coppice worker is also the person producing them. At the same time such wooden, or treen, goods also keep the carbon locked up in the wood for a much longer period.

Like the early foresters, who were employed by the Navy and the mines, we need to develop the eye and to be able to judge what each and every piece of wood from a tree could possibly be made into to get the best value in both uses and return out of a tree.

Every branch and every piece must be considered as to how it can be used and for what purpose. If we think just firewood and beanpoles we blinker ourselves to other, more more valuable, possibilities.

Any piece of wood, of timber, that is not turned into wood to go up in flames and smoke, literally, but is made into something that may be used for many years, decades even, or longer still, keeps carbon locked up and this benefits all.

Treen goods of all kinds, made by hand to last, much like furniture, will lock up the carbon that the tree absorbed (sequestered) out of the atmosphere during its growth for as long as the product “lives” and thus keeps it out of the atmosphere.

Although firewood is, in a sense, a carbon neutral fuel, other products are still better, especially as they also ad more and greater value to the timber harvested.

Firewood and beanpoles are, obviously, a lot easier and faster to produce that are other products, be those wooden kitchen utensils, garden aids, such as dibbers, etc., tool handles, walking sticks, baskets, furniture, and much more. The latter products require more forethought (no malice needed though a mallet could come in handy at times), and work, and also additional tools and skills. They do, however, add a much higher value and more joy.

Today's woodsman, like his predecessor, is never going to become a millionaire, even if he own the wood(s), but could reap a much greater return on investment if he would consider uses for his trees and timber aside from just firewood, charcoal and bean poles.

© 2013