No. 570 . 24 October 2012 
ArchitectureWeek

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July 29, 2012: A recent industrial clearcut in the O&C checkerboard lands of western Oregon runs indiscriminately over steep slopes and headwaters streams. The standing forest seen here on the left and in the middle distance is on public land sections managed by the BLM. Another clearcut, on the next industrial forest land section, is visible on the skyline. Photo: Kevin Matthews/ArtificeImages

The Corruption of Wood

by Kevin Matthews

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Wood gives acoustical as well as visual warmth to concert halls around the world, like Koerner Hall in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning in Toronto, designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects. Photo: Eduard Hueber

Trees are fundamental to urban landscapes and natural ecosystems. Wood from trees is a fundamental material for architecture.

The tension between wood in living trees, and wood in buildings and other products, is arguably at an all-time-high on planet Earth.

This is especially true in North America, where primary harvest of irreplaceable primeval forest, having swept across the continent during the last 300 years, is still underway.

In the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, even as fierce political battles rage over the logging or conservation of the last few percent of older forests on public lands, vast acreages of once-vibrant forest in private industrial ownership is being stripped and scoured rapidly.

Wood is beautiful, used well in our homes, shops, and offices. Where it comes from, and the destruction wrought in its taking, can be very ugly.

What would it take to use wood from the Pacific Northwest, the world's largest softwood lumber-producing region, in a truly sustainable, green way?

Sustainable Timber

Most basically, to use wood sustainably, we have to collect what we need from the forest while keeping the overall forest intact.   >>>

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