Saturday, June 21, 2008

Redwood In Process


The far hill bears a mix of redwood and douglas fir forest, while the pile on the right are all redwood logs. The lumber on the left is one form they take after milling. There used to be several mills in Willits, and it was the primary resource that brought the railroad through town a century ago. Today, there is one primary processor, Willits Redwood.

As commercially useful fiber, redwood trees grow fairly fast. These probably came from lands that had been cut at least three times before, counting up from the first clear cuts of "virgin" timber stands, judging from their size.

7 comments:

Chuck Pefley said...

Interesting information that the redwood tree is relatively fast growing. I always think "old growth" whenever I think redwood.

babooshka said...

I too thought of Redwoods of being a slower grower. Really interesting info.

magiceye said...

fodder for human consumption! suppose its all right as long as the cut trees are replaced by replanting..

USelaine said...

It is especially while they are younger that they grow fairly quickly. But when they get over a century old, they slow down and gradually put on weight with their height. Sounds a bit like humans I suppose. So the giants took a long time to get that size, but it is essentially their growth vigor that allows them to get so big in the first place, if that makes sense.

But to say they grow quickly for timber production is not to say the ecosystem of a mature forest recovers that quickly - not by a long shot. That's where the environmental concerns come in.

An authentic forest has the old ones falling here and there, opening up the sunlight to understory colonizers and young trees, while returning basic elements and energy back to the soil, feeding invertebrates and fungi and bacteria necessary to the health of the whole system over the centuries. Old logs that fall into streams create a system of cold pools, necessary to retaining the temperatures and oxygen content that salmon and other water life evolved with. So the trees are all different ages in a primeval, natural system, and some endangered plants, birds and mammals evolved in those conditions, that are scarce these days.

An industrial forest is designed for maximizing fiber production, not diversity of habitats. Mono-culture plantations that eliminate other species which might interfere with access to sunlight and nutrients create the fastest and greatest quantity of salable board feet of lumber or pulp. But that's true of any kind of wood for industry, not just redwood.

Ming the Merciless said...

Like Chuck said, I always thought redwood as one of those ancient forests (like redwood forest) that takes forever to grow.

I hear bamboos can grow 4 inches a day and that makes it a sustainable wood/fiber product.

USelaine said...

The ancient redwood forests do take a long time to grow, but one young tree can grow quickly. 8^)

Petrea said...

Fascinating post with an interesting shot to go with it. I've read the same thing about bamboo, ming. I think there are different types of it, but I know there's a fast-growing type (There are invasive types, too. Not sure which is which.) But like the others, I hadn't known about the way to fast-grow redwood. Thanks for the education, U.S.E.