What is “Planting with intention”?
I want to explain exactly what I mean by this. First let me give you a little background on why we are in state we are in regards to our Urban Wood Waste in the US. For a century or two, 1850 CE we really began to think about design when it came to more than a single property. In the early 1900’s we started looking at communities and neighborhoods. Like everything in the human system, we seem to want all classes to model one of the highest in some way. In my world, the tree lined street is this instance. If you thing about driveways lined with trees that didn’t produce anything but “Pretty”, this is what I am talking about. In all classes but Royalty people needed to do things out of necessity, not aesthetics. When the tree lined driveways and tree lined streets began, it was to mimic the wonderful gardens at some estate of some Wealthy figure.
On farms and rural areas we still planted with NEED in mind. What did the tree do for us? Fruit, Nuts, Shade ( for around the main house ) etc is how we planted. Our mid 20th Century Urban Sprawl caused our urban planting to extend everywhere in the US. All tree began to be planted for the “pretty” factor. This was the cause of the current problem.
Fast forward to maturity and aging out of this system. 100 years or so for most fast growing trees. The reason they are fast growing was lack of competition, fertilizer, watering and general extra care. as of 1980 the amount of tree waste thrown away into City landfills equaled 25% of the wood consumed as a country. as of 2016 and the most recent Urban Forest study by the forestry department, the number is still the same. We throw away 25% of the total volume consumed as a country. The thing we are throwing away could be used…
Here is how we plant with intention. Think that a tree can be used in the future. Our predecessors in the planting world had vast Rural Forests with no end in sight and did not need to think about the trees around them in a thoughtful and useful way, that has changed for us. Planting the right species is also very important. The right mix of native trees along with the mix that one day will be useful to the wood industry. Our standard current mix is planted landfill debris. It is estimated that 5 Billion Board Feet of wood is thrown away in form of logs each year. That is 4 Billion SqFt of flooring as an example. Another issue is to treat these trees in a way that will cause business to want them when they come down. Our current issue is also plagued with that, we didn’t treat them as a useful wood and filled them with metal, signs, fences, etc.
As a country we import wood from all over the world. We export more wood than we now consume as a country. To say we plant more than we consume might be true by measuring US wood only. But, we export and consume more than we plant. To use every tree to it’s fullest potential is my goal. Charcoal, Firewood, Mulch, Lumber, and the many things that can be produced locally from the lumber can all help offset global shipping. Also, the Carbon Sequestered from using wood as opposed to it being sent to the land fill is a whole other conversation. We will discuss that in the next Blog.
I hope this was informative.
“If you want to plan for a year, plant rice. If you want to plan for 20 years, plant a tree. If you want to plan for 100 years, teach a child.” Confusius
Lets teach our kids that Natural Resources are not here to waste. We can find solutions to harness all of them to their fullest potential.