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Choose Pennsylvania Hardwoods — Wood is Good!

April 28, 2023 11:00 AM
By: Jon Geyer

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​Trees are a renewable resource, and they produce one of the greenest building materials – WOOD.

 

Penn's Woods

Did you know, Pennsylvania is the only state named for its forest? William Penn founded his colony in 1681 and paid homage to his father, Admiral Sir William Penn, and the vast forests that characterized the area. Sylvania is Latin for "forest land." One of Penn's early ordinances for the colony required that settlers leave one acre in trees intact for every five acres cleared, which would result in the state being at least one-sixth, or 16.7% forested. Pennsylvania is now nearly 60% forested, far exceeding William Penn's goal of 16.7%.

Today, there are 16.6 million acres of forested land in Pennsylvania. This equates to 121.6 billion board feet of sawtimber. Sawtimber is defined as trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of greater than 11 inches. Each year our forests grow, on average, between three and four billion board feet. We lose about one billion board feet per year naturally,   to old age, invasive insects, disease, etc., and the industry harvests about one billion board feet. Even with harvesting occurring throughout the state, our forest volume is increasing by roughly two billion board feet every year, demonstrating the sustainability of the industry's management methods.

 

Forest Management

Forests are very similar to crops; however, unlike corn or soybeans, that are planted and harvested within a season, forests grow and require management over a much longer time. Similar to farming, forest management involves weeding and thinning to increase yield. Trees compete for water, nutrients, light, and space. Forest management is designed and timed to weed and thin the forest and to establish the next crop.

In Pennsylvania, it is seldom necessary to plant following a timber harvest, as most forests naturally regenerate. In a mature forest, like that covering much of Pennsylvania, the  leafy canopy is so thick that sunlight does not reach the forest floor, and seedlings cannot grow. So by harvesting, we are allowing new growth.

 

Pennsylvania's Hardwoods

About 90% of Pennsylvania's forest is hardwood and 10% is softwood. Hardwood is another term for deciduous trees. These trees have broad, flat leaves and their seeds come from flowers. Examples include white and red oak, sugar and red maple, and hickory. The durability, strength, color, and grain of hardwood lumber make it preferred for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry.

Softwood is another term for coniferous trees, which have needles that generally stay green year-round and seeds that come from cones. Coniferous trees are predominantly used in North America for construction-grade timber (spruce, pine, and fir, or SPF Framing Lumber). Traditionally, homes are built with softwood lumber, then furnished with hardwood lumber.

A Zero-Waste Industry

Pennsylvania is a national leader when it comes to our forests. We lead in volume of hardwood forest, volume of hardwood lumber produced, and hardwood lumber exported. Pennsylvania produces some of the highest quality hardwoods in the world.

Sustainable forest management is a top priority of Pennsylvania's forest products industry. It is their goal to manage the state's great resource efficiently and sustainably so that future generations will also be able to experience and enjoy it.

Pennsylvania's forest products industry is made up of over 2,100 companies that employ more than 60,000 Pennsylvanians and produce a direct impact of roughly $21.8 billion on the state's economy annually.

The industry takes pride in knowing that when a tree is cut, all parts are used: veneer logs for valuable veneers; saw logs to grade lumber for furniture, cabinets, and flooring; low grade lumber for pallets; small logs to pulp for paper products; sawdust for pellets; and bark for mulch. There is zero waste.

Wood is good! Choose Pennsylvania Hardwood products! 


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