Re-Using Insect-Damaged Wood: A New Recycling Trend

Damaged wood is the result of insects being unchecked, whether it be in trees or in existing furnishings. The problems are exacerbated when the trees are dead, or the wood has been damp for a period of time.

Emerald ash borers and pine beetles are two of the most common types of insects that make their mark in trees and wood, but there are plenty of other types of ants, termites and other insects that can wreak havoc on wood. Fortunately, there are many builders and craftsmen today who are willing to take these dead or partially infested trees and reuse them for furniture, art, and other projects. Here are a few examples of this new wood recycling trend.

Beetle pine chairs and home fixtures

Canadian forests have seen some significant damage caused by the mountain pine beetle. They kill trees by destroying the conductive tissue, introducing a blue-stain fungi during their attacks.

While this has caused some major losses to pine trees, particularly in the country’s mountainous regions, the wood resulting from the dead trees has been put to good use, including by Adam Nunn, a design student at the University of Alberta. Nunn has been developing chairs using the wood, including the blue-stained part that is actually harder than the natural pine.

The blue wood has also been getting milled by Aspen Wall Wood, as people have been interested in its unique character for use in ceilings, floors and walls to give a rustic, lightly colored appearance. The result has been the introduction of a brand new type of wood to the market and a great way of recycling wood that might otherwise have been left for dead in the wilderness.

City of Morden preparing for emerald ash borers

Officials in the city of Morden’s Parks and Urban Forestry Department have not seen significant effects of emerald ash borers yet, but believe it’s only a matter of time before their trees are affected. The city has about 5,500 trees on public property, about 2,000 of which are ash trees. Therefore, the city made a 10-year plan that would guide how it will prepare for the arrival of ash borers.

The city is starting to cut down ash trees in poor condition that are more likely to be susceptible to the insect, reducing the number of ash trees to about 750 over a decade and replacing them with other types of trees.

The ash trees that will be cut down due to their poor condition will be repurposed by the city, being used for wood chips and firewood made available to the public.

These are just a few examples of how some people and communities are responding to the effects of insects on trees and wood. Contact us to learn more about how wood is being repurposed when affected by insects.

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By |2018-10-19T18:22:33-04:00September 13th, 2018|Categories: Blog, Environment|Tags: , , , |

About the Author:

Dr. Leanne J Philip, BSc. (Hon.); MSc.; PhD. is the Managing Director & Chief Scientist of Soil Advocates Inc. She studied at the University of Guelph as an undergraduate (Plant Biology, Environmental Management and Urban Horticulture) and as a graduate student (Plant & Soil Interactions). She has a keen interest in soil sciences, which lead her to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for doctoral studies in soil carbon sequestration and movement within British Columbia’s clear-cut soils. Further work in soil sciences in Europe and Canada reinforced Dr. Philip’s belief that soil processes and mechanisms belowground drive aboveground aesthetics and plant interactions. While active in both research, mentorship and teaching, most recently Dr. Philip has been working in applied soil sciences in industry and community outreach. Dr. Philip is a native of southern Ontario and is a strong advocate for scientific literacy within her community and responsible environmental stewardship.

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