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Environmentally Friendly Sustainable Harvesting

One of the goals for Springfield Wood Art is to work with suppliers and sawmills that practice sustainable harvesting practices. You’re probably asking yourself what the heck is sustainable harvesting and why is it important to our environment. Sustainable harvesting can be defined as a method of harvesting that provides a constant supply of wood resources throughout the landscape, with future timber yields unaffected or improved by current harvesting methods…. Foresters emulate natural disturbances with their harvesting methods to maintain these balances. Basically, as sustainable harvesting practices focus on minimizing environmental impact while, at the same time, minimizing forest supply by replanting areas being harvested.

Three examples of improved sustainability logging practices include Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) in the tropics, Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the United States, and Finland’s Forest Act and associated timber harvest standards.

Reduced-impact logging (RIL) is defined as ‘the careful planning and control of timber harvesting operations to minimize the environmental impact and waste that result from conventional forms of logging.” It involves several practical measures, such as:
• Pre-harvest forest inventories and the mapping of individual crop trees
• The pre-harvest planning of roads, skid trails and landings to minimize soil disturbance and to protect streams and waterways with appropriate crossings.
• Pre-harvest vine-cutting in areas where heavy vines connect tree crowns.
• The construction of roads, landings and skid trails in accordance with environmentally friendly design principles.
• The use of appropriate felling and bucking techniques, such as directional felling, cutting stumps low to the ground to avoid waste, and the optimal crosscutting of tree stems into logs in ways that maximize the recovery of useful wood.
• The winching of logs to planned skid trails, ensuring that skidding machines remain on trails at all times.
• Where feasible, the use of yarding systems that protect soils and residual vegetation by suspending logs above the ground or by otherwise minimizing soil disturbance.
• Conducting post-harvest assessments to provide feedback to resource managers and logging crews and to evaluate the degree to which RIL guidelines have been applied.
(source, International Tropical Timber Organization)

Best Management Practice (BMP) encourages a combination of practices that are believed to be effective means of preventing or reducing the amount of pollution, groundwater runoff, reduce environmental impact, and reduce pollution associated with log harvesting.
(National Association of State Foresters)

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The purpose of the Finland Forest Act is to promote economically, ecologically and socially sustainable management and utilization of forest lands in order that the forests produce a good output in a sustainable way while maintaining biological diversity minimizing harm to habitat. The Act serves as a model for other countries as it related to the type of legislation that is used to regulate and manage forest land and log harvesting. This is important to us here in the US because most of the exotic woods sold in the US are imported, with a large percentage being from the Amazon and the African tropics.

We understand this information may potentially seem confusing and sometimes contradictory. The question can be ask, why harvest trees to begin with. There are several good safety conscious reasons to harvest trees. For example, in some cases old growth trees typically stop producing and can even product deadly limbs and internal rot, causing potential harm to people, pets and property. In the northwest, were we have several suppliers, trees are harvested to help manage the spread of wildfires? Finally, manufacturing furniture using solid woods has less environmental impact than engineered materials and since the manufacturing process uses less chemicals, there is less chance for environmental run-off and chemicals leaching into our water supply during the build process.

We hope this helps clarify some of the questions regarding why we partner with suppliers who have sustainable harvesting as one of their operational practices. At the end of the day, we have one environment, and we all have responsibility to do all we can to protect it for future generations

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