How do we not run out of wood?


If trees take years to grow and we use and burn so much wood, how does we not run out of wood?

In: 1

A lot of wood comes from managed parks and forests where we are constantly replanting trees to make up for the ones that we cut down. The forests / parks get mapped out into sectors, and the lumber companies rotate through those sectors.

Unfortunately sometimes lumber comes from forests where that approach isn’t applied, in which case those areas are going to run thin on trees in the future.

Logging companies plant more trees than they cut down. Trees do take years to grow but not that many. The logging areas can rotate between growing years and cutting years.

Foresters and logging companies plan ahead. The concept of planting trees now for lumber in 20, 30, 50 years isn’t particularly novel or new. We’re using lumber from trees planted decades ago, just like our ancestors used trees planted by their ancestors.

As others have pointed out, the lumber industry has a strange symbiotic relationship with trees

The old adage is that the logging companies have the best managed forests because they directly profit off big healthy trees and they lose money over diseased or rotting trees.

Trading and new technology/materials. England ran out of massive old growth trees to make their wood ships.

Running out of wood can happen and has happened to humans in the past. The original inhabitants of Easter Island, the ones that carved and erected those huge statues, apparently consumed all the trees growing on the island and the civilisation died out.

By planting more trees than we cut down. A large tree is worth a lot of money, but it doesn’t cost jack shit to plant a tree to replace it. I read recently, although I don’t have a link for you and it may be total bullshit, but it said that the USA has more harvestable forests than it had when we were founded over 200 years ago.

The logging companies plan ahead.

They know that to be sustainable over the long term they need to manage the forests they have, exactly like a farmer planting crops.

This means they can work on a scale of 20 to 50 years or more, cutting down areas that were planted decades ago and and planting trees that won’t be cut down for a few more decades.

The trick is that they have enough land and manage how much they cut down to ensure a steady supply. For example, take the land you have and split it into 30 sections – each year you fell one section and replant it, the next year you fell and plant the next section and so on. By the time you have cut down section 30 the trees you planted in year #1 are now ready to fell and you can start again.
If you want to produce more wood, you need to buy new areas, either already containing the wood you want to produce, or accepting that your new land is an investment that won’t start to produce money for a few decades yet…