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23 March 2018
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Articles & News Articles & News

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The strong evolution of lumber industry

The strong evolution of lumber industry
North America`s lumber industry helped define what it means to build in the modern era. With the invention of the light balloon-frame, lumber became an indispensable resource to the quickly expanding United States in the 19th century. Over the past 150 years, the process and politics of wood have shaped a highly efficient industry that still provides the vast majority of the U.S.`s house-building material. With new technology, wood is pushing into new territories, and the lumber industry is bracing to respond to these demands.

In North America and Europe, long gone are the days of clear-cutting forests and destroying an entire region`s ecology. While clear-cutting "slash and burn" operations still happen in parts of South America and Africa, they are due to the expanding, unregulated livestock and agriculture industries, not the timber industry.

The careful regulation and scientific study of the lumber industry in the United States and Canada have led to a net increase of 1 percent of forested land over the last 50 years. That means the forests of North America are stable, with a slight increase, even as roughly 45.5 billion board feet of lumber are harvested in the United States in a single year. This is thanks to precise tree selection, sometimes using satellite imagery and GPS, and aggressive tree-growing programs.

Most notably, the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute is considered one of the greatest points of trade tension between the two countries. The disagreement is directly linked to how and where lumber is coming from. In the United States, most lumber comes from the property of 11 million private U.S. landowners. In Canada, most land dedicated to lumber harvesting is owned by the government. In the interest of maintaining a healthy economy, Canadian provincial governments subsidize the industry, effectively keeping the price of lumber low and stable.

This is in direct conflict with the private-market-driven prices U.S. companies charge. Over the past 40 years, a number of lawsuits and agreements have been filed and disputed between the two countries over Canada`s subsidies and the movement of lumber over the border. While this dispute is currently at an uneasy truce, the potential of new wood technologies is promising to drive the demand for lumber to new heights.

Source article and image:
November 24, 2017