How many trees?

D. Braun dbraun at u.washington.edu
Fri Feb 23 12:43:35 EST 1996



On 23 Feb 1996, BOBNDWOODS wrote:

> On Wed. Feb. 21, 1996, dbraun at u.washington.edu responded to two postings
> (embedded in his posting).
> 
> Beginning with the seemingly innocuous question:
> 
> >>>...How many trees would have to be destroyed to produce 563,000 sheets
> of copy >>>paper?....
> 
> Trees are not "destroyed" to make paper.  They are processed into paper. 
> The problem we are faced with is not that we are wasting trees by turning
> them into paper, but that we are wasting paper.  In a straight foreward
> answer to the original writer's question, it takes approximately 6.3 cords
> of pulpwood to make 563,000 sheets of copy paper.  In the Southeast it
> takes about 4 trees to make a cord.  So, figure about 25 trees for your
> boss.  Many pundits will no doubt argue against these numbers, they are
> just ballpark figures.  It depends on the size of the trees and many other
> factors as well.
> 
> >>I think the answer may shock you. Actually, the answer is probably
> NONE!....
> 
> I don't know about "NONE"; it is true industry is utilizing lumber
> residues more efficiently.  However, we are still harvesting a lot of
> pulpwood from intermediate cuttings and short rotation plantings.

D. Braun Replies:  And from primary forest logging/salvage

> >>...But it isn't so much a thing to SAVE trees but to save landfills.....
> 
> Hit the nail on the head.  Loss of biodiversity, wildlife habitat, primary
> forests, watersheds, etcetera, etcetera... is not as much a factor of how
> we use our forests as how we use our land.  Logging in the development of
> this country was as much a tool to clear land for other uses as for timber
> production.  It is often the same today.  Recycling is more vital for
> decreasing the waste stream than reducing tree cutting.  We are using up
> land for places to put people and the bi-products of people.  So tell your
> boss to not muddy the waters, we may have to drink them soon.

D. Braun Replies: I agree that other motivations have removed primary 
forest, or tree cover permanently, than for lumber and fiber.  However, 
the contention that recycling is more vital for reducing waste than 
reducing tree cutting is actually a complex issue that could benefit from 
some forest products and recycling research--- which neither of us have 
cited (nor have time to do). It can be said that recycling contributes to 
the fiber stream, that was what I was trying to say.  I don't believe 
that you have proven your argument either. As to landfills, we have 
plenty of room for them away from population centers.  The issue here is 
the waste of resources dumped in the landfill, which is partly done 
because the real costs of extraction of raw materials, manufacture, and 
energy use is subsidized or ignored.
 
> >...The combination of a reduction in old-growth logging on US public
> lands, and >whole-log exports from private lands has driven up chip
> prices....
> 
> Could be.  Or, could it be that chip prices are up because of an increased
> demand for paper products?  Just 15 years ago a landowner selling timber
> in the Southeast could not give away his hardwood pulpwood (trees too
> small or poor for lumber production).  They were considered weeds to be
> eliminated from prime fibre producing lands.  Now it is as valuable as the
> softwood species.  Everyone has a personal computer now.  Most computers
> have a printer attatched.  Printers use paper that requires a high
> percentage of hardwood fibre.  Save a tree....don't make a hard copy of
> this!  Much of the forest industry in the Southeast used to throw vast
> quantities of money into reducing hardwood "competition" in pine
> plantations (hence the "monoculture - this is not a forest" argument). 
> Not so anymore.  Now these hardwoods are allowed to grow with pines in
> mixed stands.  The increase in value of one product has resulted in more
> diverse forests.  Imagine that. 

 D. Braun replies: I didn't mean to say demand played no part in chip 
prices--- I just didn't mention it.  I'm all for market-driven incentives 
for managing more diverse woodland, I'm also all for recognizing the 
drawbacks in not doing this.

> >...If we want to retain more primary forests, or grow managed forests on
> longer >rotations, for the benefits which flow from older forests for the
> many utilitarian, >cultural, and spirtitual benefits too numerous to list
> here, we must REDUCE, >REUSE, AND RECYCLE.....
> 
> Thats nice.  If we wait for the three R's to have an impact on harvest
> pressures it will be too late.  I agree that primary and old growth forest
> types have great value beyond wood production; that they are at great
> risk; and that they should be protected.   If we want to retain more
> primary and old growth forests, we have to establish a tangible economic
> value for their alternative uses.  For private lands it must put money in
> the landowners pockets.  Recreational uses, fishing, hunting permits or
> leases have a marketable value.  What about leasing unique ecosystems to
> research institutions?  Get the grant writers off their duffs.  If a
> community wants a private landowner's pretty green hillside as a backdrop,
> maybe they should pay him a scenery stipend.  At
 
D. Braun Replies: Again, I was listing these (three "R's")as contributing 
factors, and did not give them magnitudes.The original post, you may remember, 
dismissed trees as a source of chips/fiber entirely.  As for how to 
preserve primary forest on public land, the answer is simple--- just do 
it.  Public opinion supports this; I suspect that our system of campaign 
financing has a lot to do with why it has not been done.  Nationwide, 
in the lower 48 states, we are down to 1%; in Oregon and Washington, 
about 10%. Private lands would obviously need a mix of carrots and sticks, 
and in fairness, more of the former.

		Regards, Dave Braun



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