Magazine article American Forests

Urban Trees' Afterlife

Magazine article American Forests

Urban Trees' Afterlife

Article excerpt

Every time a tree falls or is cut in the city two things typically happen: part of the tree is ground up into woodchips and part is saved for firewood. Quite often, trees end up in city landfills after being severed into manageable pieces, which precludes their use as lumber.

The California Department of Forestry (CDF) offers another alternative: It is facilitating the active recovery of wood waste. These days, some of the most unique novelty items produced in the state may come from recovered wood waste. Urban trees are transformed into guitars, cabinets, and rocking chairs, distilling the natural beauty of the urban forest into stylish art.

The urban forests of California are not customarily thought of as a renewable resource. Thanks to CDF, that view could change. Urban forests in California and elsewhere provide a host of services to the community from shading citv sidewalks to filtering harmful pollutants. At the end of their lives, however, trees can become a commodity, a product people can use for a long time.

When the trees are sold, part of the proceeds goes toward planting more urban trees, which perpetuates the cycle of growth and benefits both city residents and consumers. The market for novelty items, or what are called "niche 'figure-wood' " products, is extensive in California. …

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