Imperfect, Perfect Lumber: Lumber Continually Gives, Part 1

lumberjackAs we discussed the positive aspects of wood movement, we compared its predictable, constant movement with that of composite decking. Unpredictable and problem movement isn’t the only problem with manufactured building products: None of them are quite as green as natural lumber is. The resurgence of appreciation of real wood isn’t just a victory for the lumber industry: It’s actually a positive for all people — and, really, all living things — in the world. Why? Lumber continually gives back to the ecosystem in ways that manufactured materials never can.

The Beauty of Biosequestration

Biosequestration is a beautiful thing! This separation of carbon from the atmosphere occurs naturally with all organic matter. We humans, of course, capture Oxygen and breathe out Carbon Dioxide, while plants breathe in Carbon Dioxide and exhale Oxygen.

logging forestThe Carbon Sink principle is something to which many attribute Global Warming. Basically, the more Carbon we can retain from entering the atmosphere, the less greenhouse gases there will be. Because Carbon remains locked into organic matter forever, even when a tree naturally dies and rots back into the soil, it keeps Carbon from being released. By contrast, when a tree is burned, Carbon is released.

The Continuation of Rainforests

The more trees that exist across the globe, the more they collectively capture the Carbon in the atmosphere. This situation makes deforestation a hot topic for environmentalists — and we completely understand and concur with their frustrations, with one notable exception: They tend to vilify the lumber industry, when it’s truly not to blame for the majority of deforestation. (It’s actually responsible for only 2-3%!)

log mill trucksDespite all the media and celebrity hoopla surrounding the logging industry and its impact on deforestation, the numbers tell a different story: Sustainable forestry is largely made possible by the lumber industry. In fact, it’s precisely when governmental bans on logging are in place — supposedly to protect endangered species — that mass deforestation occurs!

The Impact of Forest Fires

Even without replanting and more direct benefits to the logging and lumber industries, forestry management benefits the environment by reducing forest fires. The much higher incidence of forest fires among unmanaged forests is significant in that when wood is burned, it releases large volumes of Carbon back into the air. Since the lumber industry is largely responsible for forestry management, it can be thanked for the many forest fires (and accompanying losses of Carbon) that don’t occur. (Since modern regulatory controls have helped the lumber industry become more aware of the significance of proper forestry management, they can be thanked in part, as well.)

Hopefully you’re beginning to see how the lumber industry impacts the environment in positive ways. We’ll look at a few more ways it impacts the global ecosystem in Part 2.

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Unloading Ipe wood

Unloading Ipe wood

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 ( 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.

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