Have you ever wondered where the timber comes from for a beautiful timber floor or table or any other of the wonderful things timber is used? The obvious answer is timber comes from trees, but do you know how long and what it takes to go from a seed to an amazing and versatile building product that we take for granted, or the processes involved to get it there? The answers might surprise you. About two-thirds of the nation’s log supply comes from plantations. Plantations provide an economically viable and environmentally sustainable log resource. They are also used to rehabilitate land and improve water quality. Plantation timbers dominate the economically important forestry and forest products industries, which generate about $19 billion per year in turnover and employ an estimated 120 000 people.
Plantations are not new as many people think, Australia’s first plantations were established in the 1870s, prompted by the need for timber to support settlement in areas that had little useful local supply. Today, forest plantations cover about 1.90 million hectares around the country, which is just more than 1% of Australia’s total forests. About 1.0 million hectares (53% of the total plantation estate) is softwoods and 883,000 hectares (46%) is hardwoods. Victoria and Western Australia each has around 21% of the nation’s total plantation forest estate. New South Wales has 19%, followed by Tasmania with 14% and Queensland with 13%.
Trees are planted and are generally pruned and thinned out many times over the life of the plantation, removing the lower branches ensures a higher quality log that minimises the knots and faults in the logs and the trees grow straight up. Trees to be used in hardwood flooring are generally only harvested after a minimum of 30 years of growth, think about it waiting 30 years before you can even start to think about harvesting the timber for use, that takes a lot of forward planning and can cross over generations.
Once the tree has been felled, they are either replanted or natural regeneration occurs, the logs are then transported to a saw mill, where they are then placed in paddocks to air dry for anywhere from 9 months to a number of years, its not till then are the logs then rough sawn into blanks that are stripped out and then left to dry for a further 9 months to a year before being moved to a kiln for further drying to moisture contents that are suitable for flooring or other products, this process can take 15 to 90 days, most timbers are also treated.
Once the timber comes out of the kilns, it is then run through a number of saws and moulders, all the while being checked for moisture contents and defects, quality control is maintained extensively throughout the process, once the timber has been machined into the final product it is wrapped in plastic, ready to be sent all over the country to companies like Connollys for sale to the end user.
As you can see it takes a lot of planning, a very long time and considerable resources and man power to produce a product that is not only naturally beautiful but incredibly versatile.
Possibly one of the greatest attributes of timber, and also something that everyone should consider when looking at building products is how environmentally friendly timber is. Trees are the greatest storers of carbon, it takes less energy to produce a final product than almost every other building material, including steel and concrete. The big advantage is that Trees are also a truly renewable resource. Below is a video that explains why timber is such a wonderful and Eco friendly product.