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Forests aren't protected because I see cleared forests everywhere, especially near cities and big towns.
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Population growth means that forests might have to be cleared for social needs like housing, schools and hospitals. These are areas that have been earmarked for development. There are forest areas that can only be logged based on strict rules, like the PRF, or which cannot be touched at all, like the national parks and forests near water catchment areas.
Timbers do not last
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There is a great variety of timbers with a wide range of properties. While some species of timbers are definitely perishable, generally many species of timbers can last for a long time. Through research in timber treatment technology, timbers can be made harder, termite-resistant or weather-resistant. This is achieved by impregnating the wood with certain chemicals which are effective yet safe for use by humans.This process is widely available and is affordable. Treated timber will often out-last naturally durable timbers.
Using timber contributes to environmental destruction
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Using timber that comes from sustainably managed forests can actually help address climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Trees absorb CO2 as they grow, thus significantly reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The absorbed carbon is converted into wood in the tree. However if the forest was left totally alone, the trees in the forest will grow old and die. Trees can also die due to fire, wind damage and lightning strikes. When a tree dies, the wood will rot and release the stored carbon in the form of CO2. Therefore, it is better to harvest the bigger trees rather than let them die and rot, to keep the carbon imprisoned in the wood.
The forest produces most of our oxygen
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Trees and plants generate about 20% of the Earth's oxygen. 75% of Planet Earth is covered by water. Our oceans are occupied by zillions of microscopic plant and animal life called phytoplankton. Much of the photosynthesis on Earth is carried out by not only trees but also by planktonic organisms. In fact, more than 50% of the world's oxygen is generated by phytoplankton!
If I stop buying timber-based products, the forest will remain intact
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Not supporting timber-based products will take the economic value away from the forest. The more we buy timber-based products, the more incentive for the forests to be managed on a sustainable basis for perpetuity.
Felling trees is bad
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Selectively harvesting trees through Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) practices benefits us economically and environmentally. Old trees that are not harvested will eventually die. In a forest designated as Permanent Reserved Forest (PRF), the forest is managed in such a way that timber can be produced forever. Harvesting mature/older trees opens up the forest canopy, enabling sunlight to reach the lower level of the forest, allowing younger trees to grow.
Timber is not versatile as a building material
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Timber is the most versatile building material compared to other building materials. It can be used for both structural or decorative purposes. Timber exudes warmth and adds character to a place. Understanding timbers and their properties is important to help us select the right species for the right application.
Timber is a fire hazard
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Research has shown that timber used as structures, such as columns in large factories or buildings, performs better during a fire compared to steel or concrete. This is because steel will buckle and concrete will crack and crumble under high temperatures. Thick timber columns, on the other hand, will initially ignite but the charring of the outer layers of wood will cut off the oxygen supply and effectively slows down the burning of the deeper layers of the timber. The slow rate of burn is important because it gives the occupants enough time to evacuate during a fire. Timber columns have been found to be still standing after intense fires have been put out.