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Native Hardwood Timber          Environmental Concerns

At Urban Salvage we believe we can provide genuine, sensible advice to customers on timber and avoid exaggerated claims about our timber - recycled or forest product. There is at large today a lot of hyperbole about timber products that can mislead consumers. Our mission is - Best Use of Timber. There are aspects of good choice such as design, suitability, durability and cost - as well as provenance - that need to be considered in any purchase. Urban Salvage has recently gained Chain-of-Custody for FSC Recycled 100% timber, FSC 100% plantation Sugar Gum timber products and         AFS-PEFC native hardwood timbers including decking, flooring and cladding products, and we can now meet modern rating requirements on supply to residential and commercial building projects. Plantation softwoods, steel and engineered wood structural products should replace native hardwoods in the specification of wall, floor and roof framing. A higher value for native hardwoods would mandate this trend. Our native timber is a special type of commodity that we need to value well above common softwoods like slash pine. New technologies such as radial sawing should be used for B-grade log that is currently being used for low-value millings or is woodchipped. Production values in sawmills should be subject to accreditation or otherwise valued to encourage innovation and investment. Maximising log yields and minimising waste should be recognised at the consumer end of timber manufacturing. Woodchipping contracts in native forest timber create too many pressures on the resource. Without this imperative, the sawlogging industry will yield a smaller supply of woodchip as a by-product of milling - but not to demand-determined supply contracts. Industrial volumes of woodchip are better supplied from plantation resource if real economies can be found in this trade. Native hardwood sales should carry an impost that deems a replacement planting of native sawlog species for every log felled. Native hardwood sales should carry an impost that deems a replacement planting of native sawlog species for every log felled. This can be extended to cover imported log or sawn board - else the problem is exported. Of ultimate importance, we need to use at a rate equal to replacement - and in a genuine way. Ironbark for Ironbark, Blackbutt for Blackbutt. Not fast-growing Blue Gum (E. Globulus) for our genuine eucalypt royalty in sawlog. Investment in native sawlog plantation requires a structured approach which is industry-specific, because the cycle of growth of native hardwoods is 50 years to production. Investment in hardwood pulplog plantations has only a 12-15 year growth cycle. Given this relativity, the market is unlikely to invest in sawlog plantations without planning and structure. Ethical Choice in Timber Purchasing In recent years, purchasers and specifiers of native hardwood have been led to believe they can specify a range of hardwoods which fall into the category of ethically good. Certainly, there is good choice and bad choice in timber purchasing. There is an inherent wisdom in most good decisions we make. But a social code of ethics will founder in the complexity of practical issues in craft and construction. Timber certification is a necessary step in our progress as an industry and a consumer nation, but needs to be released from the context of social activism and identity politics. Certification should give consumers confidence about the provenance of timber products, and hardwood sawmillers should be valued for their investment, knowledge and skills, and many more brought into the embrace of the certification process. Appearance-Grade Timber from Plantation Hardwood The claim that plantation product broadly exists as a viable alternative to other managed forest hardwood product is a persistent myth. Most plantation hardwood is pulplog - suitable only for paper production. With specific exceptions (Western District Sugar Gum - for one), plantation hardwood is not available as sawn board and many trees that reach sawlog age do not satisfy an appearance-grade market for hardwood. There is a similar mythology that attaches to categories like rescued log, burnt standing timber, diseased trees, fallen trees and fire-break tree removal that is best discounted when investigating the provenance of any timber product you might purchase. It is a category of convenience - sometimes unlikely, usually unhelpful. While not suggesting you don’t buy this timber, the category has no gravitas. There is no unique merit in the purchase. It is just a harmless opportunity that need not be shouted about in media. The current native forest argument, broadly speaking, is not really an ethical one. It's a practical issue of history, tradition and change that should employ a conventional wisdom in its resolution. We need to set aside unique areas from access to logging. The Tarkine Wilderness, Wilson’s Promontory, tropical rainforests, and iconic areas in other states. Why? Because they have a higher value - in a broad sense - as standing forests and woodlands than they would as timber. Nothing is perfect. Nothing can return our continent to the pristine state that we believe existed before man arrived. Can we then just live in the least-worst world? Consider this. Nothing is perfect. Nothing can return our continent to the pristine state that we believe existed before man arrived. Can we then try to live in the least-worst world rather than thinking in polarities such as Good and Evil applied to commodities like timber. Recycled timber options also have to be assessed in terms of practical wisdom - rather than forgiven all costs. Recycled timber products can involve expensive processing and many diesel miles if trucked in from other regions. Regional supply is often overlooked and not always promoted as a good choice by the same media that applauds certified and recycled timber choice.  

urban salvage - environment

190A Hall Street, Spotswood VIC 3015      Tel: 03 9391 0466      Facsimile: 03 9391 0477      info@urbansalvage.com.au

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