“Urban areas in the United States – in the South and nationwide – have expanded rapidly over the last few decades. This expansion has led to an estimated 4 billion trees in urban areas across the U.S.
Of concern to urban foresters and urban residents alike is the fate of trees that are removed from private yards, small wooded lots, and municipally owned areas. Whether tree removal is due to damage from disease or storms, construction and development, or other factors, the volume of wood removed is substantial. Estimates of this volume range from 16 to 38 million green tons per year nationwide. Historically, urban trees have been disposed of rather than being utilized as lumber or value-added products. Recently, however, this approach has been undergoing a shift, with increasing awareness of the magnitude of wood being wasted and the potential for better use of this raw material.
The transition from a disposal mindset to one of utilization for urban wood ultimately affects a wide range of stakeholders – from arborists, foresters, loggers, haulers, sawyers, millers, and wood product developers to local governments, builders, landowners, and consumers. For all professionals in the lumber and wood products supply chain, there can be challenges, such as high costs related to handling and disposal of removed trees; there can also be market opportunities for turning a disposal problem into an array of valuable products. For entire communities, urban wood utilization has implications for broader environmental issues such as resource sustainability, carbon sequestration, and air quality.
Potential benefits of increased urban wood utilization include disposal cost avoidance, niche market development, competitive advantage, long-term business viability, environmental stewardship, and community engagement.”
Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, coordinator of the Virgina Big Tree Program. Click here to visit his website.