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For the Love of Trees.

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CHJ

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Does anyone else with a love of wood have mixed feelings about its origins?

Thursday I had one of those days that has had me thinking most of today (Fri) and certainly all afternoon as I persuaded a couple of pieces of wood and various tools to produce two more items on the lathe.

In the continual quest for yet more wood we ventured into the wilds of Herefordshire and Shropshire and moved on as far as Welshpool for a pleasant picnic lunch and a delightful browse around Powys Castle and the extensive Gardens and Grounds.
In the castle I marvelled at the skilled use of woods such as Oak, Laburnum and Olive by craftsmen who achieved such standards without the benefit of our modern tools, steels, lighting etc.
In the Grounds I fell in love with the massive Oaks and Yew trees (hundreds of them many 8ft girth) most must be in excess of 400 years old and initially went into a covetous mode envisioning how much timber they would yield and the finished articles that could ensue.

But after about an hour soaking in the beauty of them standing majestically together I suddenly found myself feeling guilty and wondering what right I had to wish such magnificent creations such a demise.

A picnic 'Tea' sat on the top of the Long Mynd on the way back looking at the barren hillsides, where no doubt my forefathers helped remove a significant amount of the timber, did nothing to dispel my quandary.

I guess I will have to stick to the ‘supermarket syndrome’ of not even thinking about where the wood came from in future, would that it all was delivered with the knowledge that it was storm felled or just cleared to provide extra light to a more magnificent or perfect specimen.
 

Adam

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CHJ":30xtr4t5 said:
Does anyone else with a love of wood have mixed feelings about its origins?
Nope, I like to think I'm doing something useful with it!

CHJ":30xtr4t5 said:
In the continual quest for yet more wood we ventured into the wilds of Herefordshire and Shropshire and moved on as far as Welshpool for a pleasant picnic lunch and a delightful browse around Powys Castle and the extensive Gardens and Grounds.
Sounds lovely.

CHJ":30xtr4t5 said:
In the Grounds I fell in love with the massive Oaks and Yew trees (hundreds of them many 8ft girth) most must be in excess of 400 years old and initially went into a covetous mode envisioning how much timber they would yield and the finished articles that could ensue.
Quite reasonable. Being woodworker means you always keep an eye out for such things.

CHJ":30xtr4t5 said:
But after about an hour soaking in the beauty of them standing majestically together I suddenly found myself feeling guilty and wondering what right I had to wish such magnificent creations such a demise.
Well, for me, I enjoy them whilst they are standing. There is always demand for wood. If it was only 20 years old, you may not have felt so guilty - but it wouldn't provide the large planks for lots of furniture. Provided any timber removed is replaced, and is cleared in a sensible fashion - so that large areas aren't felled in one swoop I think its OK. Not only that, but things like oak trees do "decline" after a certain age.

CHJ":30xtr4t5 said:
A picnic 'Tea' sat on the top of the Long Mynd on the way back looking at the barren hillsides, where no doubt my forefathers helped remove a significant amount of the timber, did nothing to dispel my quandary.
Remember only in recent times are we so wasteful - I bet every bit of those trees was used - furniture making, pit timber, etc etc.

CHJ":30xtr4t5 said:
I guess I will have to stick to the ‘supermarket syndrome’ of not even thinking about where the wood came from in future, would that it all was delivered with the knowledge that it was storm felled or just cleared to provide extra light to a more magnificent or perfect specimen.
To me, that sounds like the worst option! "supermarket syndrome" means we end up using exotic woods etc. Far better to use local timbers you know are FSC or similar. I've managed to source all my timber from a local cabinet maker recently, and he in turn gets an occasional phone call from a local tree surgeon when he's removing a tree that he thinks might be suitable for planking. Then he drives over and loads the tree on his trailer, gets it planked and then air drys it. I buy the offcuts now and again. The system works well for everyone, and I am happy that the trees are local, and were not cut "for my projects" but were getting the chip anyway.

Adam
 

wizer

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I kinda agree with your sentiments CHJ. Looking at a forest of wonderful trees, it is hard to agree with chopping it down to make 'stuff'. But, as I read on this forum not so long ago, wood is one of our few renewable resources and as Adam said, now days they use every last bit of the tree. As long as the trees are being re-planted and given enough time to grow then I do not feel there is too much to worry about. There are far more resources that we are wasting unnescesarily in this world. The only real enemy to wood is climate change, something that I believe the world is just truly waking up to. I assume that certain 'very old' trees now have preservation orders, so at least that part of history is being preserved. It seems, even in third world countries, a lot of work is being done to make sure we look after species of wood and keep them growing.

How can you say all those beautiful turnings are wasteful! :roll: :wink:
 

Alf

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IMO, the most wasteful thing done to trees to is to "preserve" them 'til they die and just rot where they stand. And I simply won't start casting blame on those who've gone before us for clearing land; they knew the value of wood better than we do, and knew how to look after it. How many of these great trees of 100's of years old would be in existance if our ancestors hadn't known about pollarding and other woodland management? Us? We just claim everything should be left "unspoilt", and thus useless for anything but walking in. Ack, makes me heave. Making something from mature wood gives it a second existance and further years of usefullness and pleasure; it's a thing to rejoice in, not be ashamed of.

And yes, it's another one of those topics I get all het up about. Sorry. :oops:

Cheers, Alf
 

CHJ

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WiZeR":165rpk4h said:
..major snip..
How can you say all those beautiful turnings are wasteful! :roll: :wink:
Touché

:oops: I still feel guilty of all those shavings and dust that I have to burn in the incinerator because we do not have a wood burner. :(

Awaiting this winters findings to see if a Pot Burner is justified in the Lathe shed.
 
A

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It is a renewable resouce and what we do with it brings us and recipients of our efforts, pleasure
 

CHJ

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Alf":wd8hz59z said:
IMO, the most wasteful thing done to trees to is to "preserve" them 'til they die and just rot where they stand. ...snip..
I don't think that myriads of the earths other creatures that thrive on them would totally agree, no dead wood left in situ in a woodland environment is wasted. In fact Kew Gardens is currently spending thousands of pounds seeding the soil with the bacteria that results from such in order to preserve their trees which have been starved of such by over zealous parkland management.

Alf":wd8hz59z said:
"unspoilt", and thus useless for anything but walking in. Ack, makes me heave.
Much better to walk the streets of London/Birmingham/ ---etc.. I presume.

Alf":wd8hz59z said:
Making something from mature wood gives it a second existance and further years of usefullness and pleasure; it's a thing to rejoice in, not be ashamed of. ...snip..Cheers, Alf
I totally agree, In my initial posting I was just trying to reflect on the fact that all actions/desires have a consequence and I for one on Friday ended the day determined to enjoy the beauty of wood and woodland and do all I can to encourage regeneration.

I am fortunate to live in an area surrounded by woodland and rejoice in those sections managed on a selective felling and replacement regime, unfortunately it does not stop those with just an eye for their immediate bank balance from clear felling 5-10 acres at a time, with just lip service to the regeneration planting that they have agreed to. They don't care; they won't be owners/operatives of the company or live long enough to see the blighted mess that they have left behind for the next generation.
 

Alf

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CHJ":1mvzmry0 said:
Alf":1mvzmry0 said:
IMO, the most wasteful thing done to trees to is to "preserve" them 'til they die and just rot where they stand. ...snip..
I don't think that myriads of the earths other creatures that thrive on them would totally agree
Do they really need whole trees? They certainly don't benefit much from hollow stumps held up by stakes in a desperate bid to stop them falling down. To be honest, I'm not sure who does?

CHJ":1mvzmry0 said:
Kew Gardens is currently spending thousands of pounds seeding the soil with the bacteria that results from such in order to preserve their trees which have been starved of such by over zealous parkland management.
Kew are hardly in the business of forestry; it's a different situation. I doubt leaving rotting tree trunks lying about would fit their image.

CHJ":1mvzmry0 said:
Alf":1mvzmry0 said:
"unspoilt", and thus useless for anything but walking in. Ack, makes me heave.
Much better to walk the streets of London/Birmingham/ ---etc.. I presume.
Actually I did use to walk about London for fun... However, going on what I think you mean, I'm not saying it's not reasonable for peple to want to walk about woodlands, but it seems unreasonable to keep them for that purpose only. Trying to preserve things in aspic kills them as surely as destroying them with a bulldozer. It's just a slower and more lingering death.

Cheers, Alf
 

CHJ

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Alf":2cup4yx4 said:
Do they really need whole trees?
Maybe not all the time but for some species I think the natural decline of the whole provides maximum benefit.

Alf":2cup4yx4 said:
They certainly don't benefit much from hollow stumps held up by stakes in a desperate bid to stop them falling down. To be honest, I'm not sure who does?
I agree, pointless, and creates a totally unnatural spectacle.

Alf":2cup4yx4 said:
Kew are hardly in the business of forestry; it's a different situation. I doubt leaving rotting tree trunks lying about would fit their image.
I have a feeling that they are changing their views on that image, after all they are trying to provide an emergency reserve in some instances and the natural support fauna is as vital as the specimen itself, they are certainly re-thinking all the tarmac pathways and the 'to clean' leaf removal policies.

Alf":2cup4yx4 said:
...snip..Actually I did use to walk about London for fun... However, going on what I think you mean, I'm not saying it's not reasonable for peple to want to walk about woodlands, but it seems unreasonable to keep them for that purpose only. Trying to preserve things in aspic kills them as surely as destroying them with a bulldozer. It's just a slower and more lingering death.
It takes all sorts :) however I agree with you that we should always make maximum use of any renewable resource and manage it to it's full potential.

I do not agree that leaving woodland/forest as close as possible to it's own natural evolution (for walking?) will result in it's demise, far from it, it will regenerate at it's own pace as older trees fall and clear their immediate surrounds the new generation of growth will soon take advantage. Humans may find it difficult to penetrate the resultant tangle dependant upon the dominant species but it will flourish the same as it was doing before man made his first axe. The one major intervention I would like to see in the vast majority of our woodlands is the removal or segregation of non native species. I have no objection to these being farmed in the right location, just their invasiveness in our natural habitat.
 

Alf

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CHJ":qhr4vra6 said:
I do not agree that leaving woodland/forest as close as possible to it's own natural evolution (for walking?) will result in it's demise, far from it, it will regenerate at it's own pace as older trees fall and clear their immediate surrounds the new generation of growth will soon take advantage.
Oh, it'll still keep going, I don't doubt, but I'm not convinced it'll be the woodlands we currently think of as "natural". The methods of working the forests in preceeding centuries made a good deal more difference than I think a lot of people realise. It's a bit like the idea that the demise of farming will somehow be beneficial to the countryside. Perhaps it will, almost certainly it would be in some regions such as Wiltshire (where it probably won't happen), but it will be a different countryside. Whether that's a Good Thing or a Bad Thing we'll no doubt find out.

As for Kew, I image if they don't keep it looking like it was in its heyday some clever so-and-so will come along and say it should be preserved as it was in the Victorian era. :roll: :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

CHJ

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Alf":3st67rnr said:
Oh, it'll still keep going, I don't doubt, but I'm not convinced it'll be the woodlands we currently think of as "natural".
I think it most unlikely that it would be, but it would be great to live long enough to see what the outcome was.

Alf":3st67rnr said:
The methods of working the forests in preceeding centuries made a good deal more difference than I think a lot of people realise. ..snip..
A far as our broadleaved woodland and localised coppicing along our waterways etc. is concerned I believe mans intervention in the main has enhanced both the usefulness and pleasure factors, unfortunately as the industrial need for certain commodities died out the industrialists of the time neglected to replenish what they had squandered.
The one area of forestry that I wish would decline at a greater pace is the misguided planting of non native conifers that have done so much to pollute their local environments.

I spent most of my formative years on a farm where coppicing and selective felling was the only source of crop supports, fencing repair material, etc. not an easy life but an aesthetically rewarding one.
 

Alf

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CHJ":2hrgw27u said:
The one area of forestry that I wish would decline at a greater pace is the misguided planting of non native conifers that have done so much to pollute their local environments.
Oh hear, hear.

Cheers, Alf
 

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