In short, the answer is a resounding YES! Based on incomplete stories in the media, many people make some absolutely false assumptions about the lumber industry. Just like the myth about importing lumber being bad for the environment, the idea that we have a waning domestic supply is based on misconceptions.
The Effects of Problematic Past U.S. Forestry Practices
While forestry practices in the U.S. have certainly not always been sustainable, it’s a caricature to think of loggers clear cutting for 200 years and in danger of completely depleting our continent’s supply of lumber. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, loggers commonly clear cut whole forests and caused great damage to land surrounding the area they logged.
Following World War I, people started to realize that lumber was not the inexhaustible resource they once thought it to be. Since that time, forestry management plans and replanting schemes have been put in place, beginning to compensate for decades of clear cutting. By now, generations of trees have had time to flourish in designated forestry zones, allowing the lumber availability to keep up with our nation’s growing population.
On the negative side, there are some areas in which we may never recover from those early years of poor stewardship; for instance, many of the old growth trees that took centuries to grow into the beauties they became were haphazardly cut down and can never be regrown in mere decades.
Today’s U.S. & Canadian Forestry Practices
Today’s U.S. forestry practices are informed by scientific research. The aim of maintaining a strong supply to meet ongoing construction demands is balanced with the intention of re-growing old growth forests. One way this can be achieved is by keeping a certain number of trees per area uncut and avoiding clear cutting. Some cutting of mature trees is important, though, so that sunlight can be provided to younger trees. While these steps do assist in forest health and the future of lumber availability, it cannot change the fact that exceptionally wide and long sizes are simply not as available as they were a hundred years ago.
The exploitation of forests was never as extensive in Canada as it was in the U.S., so many old growth forests remain intact. Even still, the Canadian government has mandated exceptionally aggressive replanting and harvesting requirements in order to create a large and healthy population of new trees. That combination means that Canadian forests are some of the best managed forests in the world.
Hopefully this knowledge helps you feel like you can continue to purchase and build with wood with a clear conscience, knowing that you are not depleting an unsustainable natural resource; by contrast, it’s the market for lumber that actually contributes to the value and continuation of forests throughout the world.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.