How Forest Certification Non-Profits Were Born

How Forest Certification Non-Profits Were Born

In 1992 the United Nations met in Rio de Janiero in what’s now known as the Earth Summit. At this meeting, 172 governments participated to discuss continuing effects of climate change and how to stop it. One of the non-legally binding documents created from this event, Agenda 21, made several recommendations regarding the need for sustainable forestry practices to limit deforestation. This meeting prompted the creation of forest certification non-profit organizations that currently oversee sustainable forest management practices around the world. There are three of these organizations prevalent in North America: FSC, SFI, and PEFC.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Photograph from Wikipedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Photograph from Wikipedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

The first international non-profit created after the 1992 Earth Summit in response to the need of forestry oversight is the FSC. In 1990, informal meetings among environmentalists, lumber traders, timber users, and human rights organizations took place in California. According to the FSC’s website, these meetings “highlighted the need for a system that could credibly identify well-managed forests as the sources of responsibly produced wood products.”

After the 1992 Earth Summit, it became apparent that this group must evolve into the international non-profit entity it is today. FSC is the world’s second largest forest certification program and as of October 2016, has certified more than 191 million hectares of forest area among 82 participating countries (one hectare is equal to 100 acres). They’re endorsed by the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)

The SFI program launched in 1994 in the United States, also in response to the 1992 Earth Summit, to promote sustainable forestry practices. It was the US forest sector’s contribution to promote sustainable forestry practices. SFI founders believe that there are different ways to sustainably manage forests that allows them to be more competitive in the market. Since their inception, they’ve garnered a great deal of industry support. In 2005, they were endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which is the largest international certification program in the world. To date, more than 30 indigenous groups across North America manage over 2.0 million hectares of forest land, certified to the standards of SFI.

To give back to the industry, SFI program participants are required to invest money in forestry research, technology, and science. Since 1995, program participants have invested $1.4 billion USD.

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

The largest forest certification non-profit program on Earth is the PEFC. It was established in 1999 by national organizations from 11 countries. Whereas the FSC and SFI programs are audited by third parties in what’s considered to be a “top-down” process, the PEFC is considered a “bottom-up” process. The program enables “the development of national standards tailored to the political, economic, social, environmental and cultural realities of the respective countries, while at the same time ensuring compliance with internationally-accepted requirements and global recognition.” In other words, this system allows land owners within participating countries to use a forest management system that’s compliant with their local laws and international forestry standards.

The first countries to be PEFC certified were in the European Union. In 2004, forests in Australia and South America became certified, and in 2011, China came on board. As of June 2016, more than 300 million hectares are PEFC certified.

These programs were created to ensure forests will continue to sequester carbon and provide trees for future generations. Although each program is subject to criticism, their work has shown that there are different, effective ways to sustainably managing forests within the international community.

Resources

 

This is the third of a five-part series on forests and climate change.

Previous: The Carbon Cycle;  How Foresters Limit Their Carbon Footprint

Coming Next:

  • REDD+ and UN-REDD
  • The Future of Forestry

 

How Foresters Limit Their Carbon Footprint

How Foresters Limit Their Carbon Footprint

Forests absorb airborne carbon dioxide, store carbon in wood, and return pure fresh oxygen to the atmosphere. As that process continues, though, gases in the atmosphere absorb the planet’s heat and radiate it in all directions. When that heat cannot escape Earth’s atmosphere, the planet’s temperature warms.

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Scientists estimate that nature is only able to remove about half of all carbon dioxide added to the environment. The good news is that forests, particularly those in North America, are continuously pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it in solid wood. Because these forests are growing more than is being harvested, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that U.S. forests currently serve as a carbon ‘sink’, offsetting approximately 13% of U.S. emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Canadian Harvesting Practices

Wood products harvested from forests continue to store carbon throughout their use. According to the Canadian Climate Forum’s Issue Paper #4 from Fall 2015, Canadian timber harvesting practices emit minimal greenhouse gases. Improvements are continually being made to the industry’s lumber manufacturing practices to reduces its carbon footprint.

Energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce forest products are less than materials wood often replaces, such as metals, concrete and plastic. Canada’s forest products industry has been a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its manufacturing processes. Since 1990, the pulp and paper industry in Canada has reduced emissions by about 65%. This has been accomplished by replacing fossil fuels used for mill processes with low net-carbon emissions energy generated by burning wood residues once disposed of by burning without energy recovery.

U.S. Harvesting Practices

The United States has about 751 million acres of forest area, equal to about one third of the country’s total land area. According to the 2010 National Report on Sustainable Forests, forty-four percent of United States forests are owned by local, state, or national governments and the rest are owned by private land owners. Sierra Pacific Industries, a forest products company, is one of the largest private land owners in the country, and is typical of how landowners approach sustainability. Regarding how their land is managed, Mark Pawlicki, the Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability for Sierra Pacific Industries, states,

“Sierra Pacific manages its forest lands on a sustainable basis. In California, we operate under the state’s rigid Forest Practices Act and Forest Practice Rules which require large timberland owners to not harvest more than they grow. In both California and Washington timber harvests are conducted only after a review and approval by state regulatory agencies. In addition, all of SPI’s 1.9 million acres of forests are certified under the independent Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which ensures that we are managing our lands on a sustainable basis for wood products, wildlife habitat, water quality, and other environmental attributes.”

Forest Certification

Voluntary third-party forest certification began in the 1990s in response to market concerns about forest management and illegal logging, primarily in developing countries. Other widely used forest certification programs in North America are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programmme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Programs like these are all designed to assure consumers that the wood products they purchase have been produced sustainably. They are also assured that these forests are doing their part to offset fossil fuel carbon emissions.

Resources

 

This is the second of a five-part series on forests and climate change.

Previous: The Carbon Cycle

Coming Next:

  • How Non-Profit Forest Certification Programs Were Born
  • REDD+ and UN-REDD
  • The Future of Forestry

The Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle

Forest ecosystems play an important role in regulating the atmosphere’s chemical composition. Young trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, store the carbon within their trunks while they grow, and release oxygen, giving us clean air to breathe. In fact, trees absorb so much carbon that their chemical composition is about 50% carbon!

Carbon Neutrality

Image Credited to Sierra Pacific Industries. (Click image for larger view).

Image Credited to Sierra Pacific Industries. Click here for larger view of the infographic.

Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere depletes the ozone layer and impacts global temperatures. Young, fast growing trees pull carbon from the oxygen during photosynthesis, store the carbon within their trunks, branches, and leaves, and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. When trees, branches, and leaves burn in a forest fire, the carbon stored within them is released back into the atmosphere. However, the emissions are dramatically reduced when forest byproducts are burned in a biomass-fueled electric generation facility. When treated this way, emissions from burning are considered carbon neutral.

Sierra Pacific Industries and the Forest Foundation are pioneers in researching the carbon neutrality of sustainably managed forests. As they explain in their infographic,

“Young, healthy forests absorb carbon more rapidly than older, dense forests. Older forests release carbon at the same rate that they absorb it, neutralizing their effect on global warming. Sustainably managing forests is an effective way to store carbon. As a tree grows, it stores carbon in its trunk, branches, and roots. When trees are harvested, the carbon continues to be stored in wood products.”

Trees reach a point in their aging process when the emissions from the natural decaying process exceed the carbon they sequester. It’s like filling up a cup of water. There’s only so much empty space within a cup for it to hold water. Once it’s full, it overflows. Over-mature forests release excess carbon into the atmosphere similar to how water overflows from a cup when you try to pour too much into it.

The Need for Biodiversity

However, this does not suggest that mature trees are bad and should be removed from forests. Nor does it suggest that young trees within a forest are the only plants that absorb carbon. Mature trees play an important role in preserving the forest’s ecosystem. Recent studies suggest that certain species of mature trees have ways of passing carbon underground to younger trees as a way to help them grow, adapt, and survive. Moreover, the biodiversity of forests supports carbon absorption from a variety of plant life. Forest ecosystems are incredibly diverse and they rely on that diversity to flourish, survive, and absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

Resources

 

This article is the first of a five-part series on how forests help fight climate change. The next articles and topics will be:

  • How Foresters Limit Their Carbon Footprint
  • How Non Profit Forest Certification Programs Were Born
  • REDD+ and UN-REDD
  • The Future of Forestry

Upcycled Wood Pallets: The Forklift & Palate Restaurant

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant

If the walls of the Forklift & Palate Restaurant could talk, they would tell a tale of American enterprise and vision comingled with respect and care for the environment.

Upcycled wooden pallets at the center of attention in The Forklift & Palate Restaurant. Photography © Stephanie Jordan

Upcycled wooden pallets at the center of attention in The Forklift & Palate Restaurant. Photography © Stephanie Jordan

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant is housed along with The Warehouse Hotel and Spooky Nook Sports facility in a repurposed industrial warehouse in Manheim, PA. Located in the heart of the famed Pennsylvania Dutch country, the restaurant offers authentic down-home American hospitality, new twists on classic American culinary favorites, and surroundings that incorporate imaginative uses of the building’s original industrial trappings, including pallets, pallet slats and cable spools. Yes, we’re talking about pallets, wooden shipping skids that were stashed onsite when the former Armstrong World Industries distribution center was purchased and converted into a world-class sports training and entertainment center in 2011.

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant features recycled and repurposed materials from the original warehouse throughout the facility, right down to the cement in the driveway and the pallets that frame display murals on the walls. Tables in the restaurant and bar area made from used pallet slats sit adjacent to tables made from large circular wire spools lending a casual, rustic ambiance to the space. Every wall in the restaurant is unique; many are faced with pallet slats and other recycled materials. Even the menu holster at the hostess station is made from used pallet slats.

“Everybody loves the décor. It’s very natural, very authentic. And it’s a comfortable setting where people can relax and chill with friends, buddies and teammates,” said Tim Brandt, Forklift & Palate Restaurant manager. “The place has a great vibe and people feel really good about the green theme of reusing, recycling, being earth friendly. Of course, they love the great food and friendly service, too.”

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

The restaurant’s environmental ethos goes well beyond its contemporary industrial décor stylings to incorporate state-of-the-art environmental systems such as geothermal heating and rainwater recycling. “With all of our three entities, we are committed to environmentally friendly practices, from the types of cleaners we use to the conservation of water in our restrooms, turf watering practices and kitchens,” said Stephanie Jordan, Spooky Nook’s marketing manager. “By using repurposed building materials in our complex, restaurant and hotel, we hope to preserve not only beautiful Lancaster County, but also the history of this unique building.”

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant opened and began welcoming guests over the 2015 Independence Day weekend. The Spooky Nook complex, which sits on 65 acres and owes its name to its location on Spooky Nook Road, is the nation’s largest total experience sports destination. The Nook hosts tournaments, leagues, camps and clinics in sports ranging from baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey to fencing, tennis, soccer and scores of other sports activities.

(Article written for and published in PalletCentral, September-October 2015)

2 Types of Recycled Pallets for Export

2 Types of Recycled Pallets for Export

The sustainable standards of ISPM 15 regulations apply to recycled wood pallets and prevent them from spreading wood boring insects across international borders. These standards help ensure recycled wood pallet and crate companies do their part to protect the environment. ISPM 15 separated recycled pallets into two categories: repaired and remanufactured.

It’s Like Buying a Used Car

When a pallet company buys broken, heat treated, recycled pallets from their customer, most of the pallets require some repair. The pallet company brings the recycled pallets to their facility to sort through them. They fix the repairable pallets and salvage the others for parts.

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Buying used pallets is like buying a used car. You could buy a reliable used car that might have had the transmission, radiator, or other parts replaced and it will still be safe and effective to drive. It’s the same car it always has been; it’s simply had a part or two replaced. In the same way, replacing the bad parts of a pallet extends the life of the pallet. ISPM 15 has two categories for recycled pallets. The first category is repaired pallets, referred to in section 4.3.2 of ISPM 15.

Repaired pallets have had up to one-third of the components replaced. This is like the new car that had its radiator replaced. Everything is still new except for that one part. However, once a pallet reaches the end of its life, it’s dismantled and the usable boards are stacked and separated for re-use on other pallets. The unusable boards are recycled into products like wood chips or sawdust for different industries.

It’s possible to make a pallet entirely from recycled boards. If a pallet has had more than one-third of its boards replaced, then ISPM 15 considers it remanufactured, referred to in section 4.3.3 of ISPM 15. This is like the car that has had its engine, transmission, and radiator replaced with parts (new or used) all sourced from different places. When a remanufactured pallet has been repaired with lumber sourced from different locations, separate rules apply. Processes need to be followed to ensure that pallet is ISPM 15 compliant and won’t spread wood-boring pests from one country to another.

Stamping for Export

The governing agency for each ISPM 15 participating country distributes a unique number to be assigned to a stamp. Each company that participates in the ISPM 15 program must clearly stamp each heat treated wood product that leaves their facility with their number. That way, the source of each wood product can be traced in case there’s a problem. Depending on the pallet’s origin, a used pallet can sometimes have more than one stamp on it to certify heat treatment. In the United States, it’s required that all previous stamps be obliterated before a pallet is heat treated. Only then can a new stamp be applied.

The language of ISPM 15 is used as a minimum requirement for all countries that participate. The agency that oversees ISPM 15 in each country has the authority to include additional standards. Put differently, the rules that apply to businesses in Canada are different than the rules that apply to businesses in the United States. The agency that oversees the Canadian ISPM 15 program is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In the United States, it’s the American Lumber Standards Committee. Refer to links below for more information.

Resources

Wood Pallets and ZIKA: Get the Facts

How Mosquitos Cross Borders

The spread of the Zika virus within the United States has changed the protocol for exporting shipments to other countries. However, this hasn’t changed the way wood pallets are prepared for export. As described in our previous post, the ISPM 15 requirements exist to prevent the spread of wood-boring insects across international borders. Mosquitos are not wood boring insects. The types of mosquitos that spread the Zika virus breed in pools of water. To prevent the spread of Zika, cargo containers and airplanes are subject to special treatment.

Chinese Regulations

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

China, in particular, is strict on this rule. According to the American Journal of Transportation, China’s fumigation requirement is effective for all shipments from the US after August 5, 2016. On September 2nd, they modified the requirement to apply only to shipments originating from Florida. Products being shipped don’t have to be exposed to the fumigation process if certain conditions are met. For instance, fumigating the empty container prior to loading the cargo into it is considered acceptable. Another method it to keep the temperature at 15 degrees Celsius or less during transit. Passenger and cargo airplanes must also comply with these regulations. The space in commercial airlines for storing baggage and in the passenger seating areas should be fumigated prior to departure. Airlines must supply proof of fumigation to the Chinese government.

Pallet Compliance

Wood pallet companies that supply pallets for export are not responsible for fumigating cargo containers. Pallet suppliers have no obligation beyond the ISPM 15 requirements to certify the lumber on their pallets has been heat treated. The ISPM 15 requirements pallet companies must follow are intended to prevent the spread of wood-boring insects that could harm forest sustainability. The National Wood Pallet and Container Association has been working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on this subject and had determined:

The ZIKA virus is a human health issue and is related to mosquitos, not wood-boring insects. Therefore, the recognized heat treatment or fumigation of export wood pallets for ISPM 15 compliance is not applicable for ZIKA compliance of the shipment. The entire consignment and container must be anti-mosquito treated and certified pre-shipment. There is no action a wood pallet company can do to assure ZIKA compliance for their customer’s shipment. It is the shipper’s responsibility to ensure the entire shipment is ZIKA compliant.

Inbound shipments without proof of anti-mosquito treatment will be fumigated at the port of discharge in China by the authorities without prior notice. It is the Consignee’s responsibility to inform Shipper (at origin) to provide a certificate proof of treatment before loading the shipment.

These regulations are in place to prevent the spread of Zika virus by mosquitos. The Zika virus was discovered in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia. According to the CDC, as of September 14, 2016, in the United States there have been 43 cases of locally acquired Zika and all of them occurred in Florida. Thus, only outgoing shipments originating from Florida going to China are subject to fumigation; however, these requirements are subject to change. As of September 14, 2016, there are 3,132 cases of US citizens who have contracted Zika by means associated with travel.

Resources

ISPM 15 and Sustainability

History of ISPM 15

The International Stands for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15, referred to in the industry as ISPM 15, is an International Phytosanitary Measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). According to its documentation, the primary goal is to “reduce the risk of introduction and spread of quarantine pests associated with the movement in international trade of wood packaging material made from raw wood.” The language is comprehensive, covering all forms of wood packaging that serve as pathways for pests that could pose a risk to living trees.

The IPPC is a multilateral treaty signed into effect on December 6, 1951. As of 2010, 74 countries participate in the program. According to the IPPC, the “ISPMs provide globally harmonized guidance for countries to minimize pest risk without creating unjustified barriers to trade, ultimately facilitating their exports and imports of plants and plant products.”

How Wood Packaging Companies Comply

In North America, if a wood products company wants to export lumber then they must comply with the program. The most common way for companies to comply with ISPM 15 standards is by heat treating lumber. In order for lumber to meet these standards, the internal temperature of the timber must reach 56 degrees Celsius or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes in a kiln. Certain types of lumber, such as plywood, oriented-strand board (OSB), and sawdust are exempt from these standards as they are exposed to the heat-treating requirements during the manufacturing process. The purpose of heat treating lumber to meet ISPM 15 standards is to reduce the risk of spreading wood boring insects.

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Wood packaging companies that participate in the ISPM 15 program are assigned a stamp with a unique number and that stamp must be clearly applied to all products used in export. They must keep written logs of incoming heat treated lumber and any outgoing orders where the stamp was used. Compliance is monitored and enforced by third party companies that make unscheduled monthly visits to the wood products companies to ensure all rules and regulations are followed. Some of the largest North American inspection companies are Timber Products, Pacific Lumber Inspection Bureau, and West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau and they work closely with the United States and Canadian governments. If a wood product company doesn’t follow the rules of the program, they can get their stamp revoked and they won’t be allowed to certify lumber products for export.

ISPM 15 and Sustainability

Lumber and other wood packaging companies across North America have widely adopted the ISPM 15 standards and these standards are intended to help protect our forests from wood-boring pests. According to ISPM 15 language, “Pests associated with wood packaging material are known to have negative impacts on forest health and biodiversity. Implementation of this standard is considered to reduce significantly the spread of pests and subsequently their negative impacts.” By adopting ISPM-15 protocols into the manufacturing processes and by achieving the high levels of industry compliance, the wood packaging industry will enhance its role as stewards of the resource, reducing the risk of spreading wood-boring insects which results in elevating the sustainability of the products we produce.

Resources

Successes of the Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol

This month marks the 26th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, one of the most successful international treaties that has, among other things, reduced the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Forests are also critical in meeting the challenge of total emissions reductions through their ability to act as carbon sinks and safely remove carbon dioxide, CO2, from the atmosphere. Trees help the planet by absorbing carbon dioxide. They release the oxygen back into the environment and use the carbon internally, to produce sugars for growth. Trees continue to store carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere for the duration of its use, and those benefits are extended when those wood products are recycled time and time again. For more resources on the sustainability of North American forests, visit the reference section at the bottom of this page.

History

The ozone layer acts as a shield to protect Earth and all the plants and animals within it from ultraviolet radiation. In the 1970’s, scientists learned that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC’s, had been migrating to the upper atmosphere, depleting the ozone layer.

Photo attribute: Photograph by NASA, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Photo attribute: Photograph by NASA, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

The scientists involved in the initial discovery, Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work concerning the formation and depletion of the ozone layer. However, during the 1970’s, CFC’s were commonly found in household products like hairspray and deodorant. Years later in 1985, scientists discovered that the Antarctic ozone hole, a layer of ozone above the Antarctic, had been shrinking at higher rates than they originally calculated and it was proved that the widespread use of CFC’s had caused it. The international community responded with the Montreal Protocol to eliminate the production and sale of ozone-harming substances.

According to the United Nation’s Environment Programme, below are some of the successes of the Montreal Protocol

  • The ozone layer is recovering. It should return to pre-1980 levels by the middle of the century
  • It has helped the global community avoid millions of cases of fatal and non-fatal skin cancer, and cataracts
  • As of 2010, the consumption and production of ozone depleting substances has stopped
  • It became the first treaty to be universally ratified

Paris Agreement of 2015

Since CFC’s and other ozone depleting substances are also global warming gasses, the reduction of one helped reduce the other. However, there’s still work to be done. Scientists estimate that the size of the Arctic ozone hole won’t return to pre-1970 levels until the middle of the 21st century, so the full impact of the Montreal Protocol might not be realized for at least another forty years. Moreover, the planet is still warming. At the Paris Climate Conference in December of 2015, 195 countries agreed to a global action plan that will limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. This historic breakthrough is the result of nine years of United Nations diplomats working together to stop global warming, requiring action from all countries. In an interview, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said, “For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on earth.”

Resources

Finding Pallets for DIY Projects

Finding Pallets for DIY Projects

In the United States its estimated that there are more than 4 billion pallets in circulation yet about 100 million still end up in landfills. One growing trend that has helped keep pallets out of landfills is using them for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Pinterest is flooded with creative ideas to inspire alternative uses for wood pallets. People make things like planter boxes and shelves and even using recycled pallet boards to make beautiful custom home flooring, as featured in our post Pallets Inspire New Markets, New Products.

Where to Find DIY Pallets

Natures-Packaging-DIYThe most widely used pallet size in the industry is the 48×40 but there are hundreds of other custom-sized pallets in circulation every day that are thrown away near dumpsters. These usually make for great DIY projects. However, with its growing popularity, finding free pallets has become challenging and people are starting to source them from other ways. In fact, because they’re in such short supply, folks have started contacting their local pallet companies to buy pallets for their DIY projects.

People are finding that some wood pallet companies sell to the public and they’re excited to sell pallets to the DIY community. For them, it’s fun and it’s a great way to sell older, unwanted inventory especially if it takes up valuable storage space. One pallet company in California went as far as to open a new product line, using his resources to manufacture and sell finished DIY Christmas trees made from pallets. On the other hand, some companies have minimum order quantities for pallet orders because as wholesalers, they’re not equipped to sell to the public.

One thing pallet and crating companies can get behind is that finding alternative, creative uses for pallets is good because keeps them out of landfills and that’s good for the environment. It’s a fun way to help mother nature. There are many tools accessible online that will help you find the pallets you need for your DIY project.

Contact your local pallet company and ask if they sell to the DIY community. Below are some resources that will help:

Disassembling pallets for DIY projects can be dangerous. Remember to wear personal protective equipment to prevent injury. Instructions on how to safely dismantle a pallet are listed below, courtesy of the Canadian Wood Pallet and Container Association. For the color of your finished product to really stand out, it’s advised that you pressure wash the pallet with water and use sandpaper to remove impurities. Follow Nature’s Packaging on Pinterest today for inspiration and ideas on do-it-yourself pallet and crate projects!

Resources

What Happens After a Forest Fire

Life Returns After a Forest Fire

Forest floors after a fire are ripe with nutrients to support new life. A natural part of the forests’ life cycle, plants and animals have adapted to survive and thrive after such fires.

Photograph by United States Forest Service, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Photograph by United States Forest Service, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Most animals flee from the initial scene of the fire but over time, they return. Certain types of wood boring beetles can detect a fire’s heat or smoke from more than 30 miles away. They are usually the first to arrive on scene of a forest fire. These types of insects are always present in the forest, living underneath the bark of trees, and their activities help burnt trees decompose.

Other animals that follow the beetle post-fire are woodpeckers, as some species feed on beetle larvae and other insects. Next to return are small ground animals, that will make homes out of shrubs that may have survived the fire. Once the population of small animals returns, coyotes will follow, thus over time reinvigorating the burnt forest with life.

Trees and other plant life have evolved ways to survive forest fires. They can re-grow from their leaves or needles, re-sprout from their roots, and some even have fire resistant seeds that will sprout after a fire. According to Dr. Peter F. Kolb of the University of Montana, their success depends on the intensity and duration of the fire. In other words, a fire that burnt at a high temperature for a long period of time could inflict the greatest damage to plant life and reduce survival rates.

Mountain Pine Beetle

The mountain pine beetle epidemic, which began in British Columbia and spread across western North America, has impacted an estimated 18.1 million hectares of forest in British Columbia. This beetle invades weakened trees, creating more fuel for future forest fires. The epidemic has spread into Wyoming and Colorado, which had been triggered by an extended drought in that area during the 1990’s and 2000’s.

According to Dr. David R. Coyle of the University of Georgia,

“Trees are pretty well-defended against bark and wood-boring beetles. Trees produce copious amounts of resin, and this acts to push beetles out of holes they may be making, and usually entombs the beetle. When a tree is successfully colonized by beetles, its usually because the tree is weakened by something, such as drought, fire, overcrowding, or poor genetics. The beetles may be the final straw, but most of the time the trees have to be weakened enough to allow a beetle to colonize it.”

Resources

 

(Photograph by USDA Forest Service, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license)

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