|TRUNKS OF CITY TREES KILLED BY INSECTS, DISEASE OR OTHER FACTOR...|
|... ARE SAWN INTO BOARDS AT THE SAWMILL|
|...HUGE ELM TRUNK SLABS...|
|A HUGE SLAB OF BLACK WALNUT, WORTH SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS...|
|...HAND CRAFTED INTO UNIQUE, EXPENSIVE FURNITURE|
The joint Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council and Wisconsin Council on Forestry meeting was very successful and interesting (sounds redundant, but the Council on Forestry is involved with traditional forestry and the logging industry, and the two groups seldom have much in common). Our combined groups toured several unique lumber mills and sales facilities specializing in the rescue and use of urban trees killed by insects, disease or other factors.
Until recently such trees ended up in landfills, or perhaps as firewood or wood chips. Disposal of dead trees has mainly been a budget liability for communities. But in the last five or ten years there has been a surge of interest in the use of urban trees for high end furniture, hardwood flooring and interior woodwork and cabinetry. Such wood can have great character of grain, color, burls and knots, much in demand for finished woodwork. There is also an increasing interest in trees that have witnessed community history, and saving them as architectural artifacts incorporated into new buildings. In essence, a liability is being turned into a resource. The environmental logic of recycling urban trees is very strong, and enough municipalities, lumber mills and arborists are interested in their recycling that it has become a viable business opportunity.
Leading the charge in this effort has been "Wisconsin Urban Wood,"a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that is a network of municipalities, arborists, furniture makers, builders, architects and businesses that are determined to turn waste wood into useful, economically beneficial and beautiful products.