Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert

The environment, sustainability & recycling

Like to know what wood to use building a pergola or framing a barn? How about the difference between tung oil and polyurethane as a floor finish? How to revive decking or deal with merbau stains? Or how to meet the building code or bushfire standards? Or ask about the environmental advantages of wood or forest certification?

Q. I am looking at the option of planting timber as a renewable resource and would like some information on the Australian regulations and viability of such a project. Thank you.

Your question is a very broad one and needs more detailed consideration than we can give it here. The viability of growing trees for timber production depends on the area of land available, rainfall, proximity to a sawmill, and a number of other factors. There are some useful booklets available to help you get started, many of which you can download from the net. If you type “farm forestry” into your browser you will find the relevant links. Organisations such as Australian Forest Growers can also help. You can visit their website at www.afg.asn.au. Their booklet Getting Started in Farm Forestry sets out some of the basic issues. Once you complete your preliminary research, it might be worth engaging a consultant forester to advise you on the specifics.

Q. We manage plantations in WA and have government approval for clearing/thinnings of natural bush, with the condition that we commit to planting 20 times that removed. We are having trouble finding markets for our hundreds of thousands of tonnes of resource

Our role is a promotional one, and we don’t become directly involved in commercial projects. However, someone who reads your question on our Q & A page might be interested. If so, we will seek approval before passing on your details. Meanwhile, are you aware of the Biomass Power Generation Plant proposed by Western Australia Biomass Pty Ltd for the Manjimup area? This would seem a suitable market for your resource. Connell Wagner has been facilitating the environmental approval process for the plant and you may wish to contact their W.A. office for more details.

Q. I'm disappointed in the lack of balance in your stance on climate change. True science says there isn't a problem with human induced climate change. Why try and fix something which is not broke? I welcome your response.

We are aware that there is a significant body of scientific opinion that disputes the notion of human-induced climate change. For more on this, have a look at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=MinoritySenateReport#report. However, there is an equal, or greater, body of scientific opinion that endorses the idea of human-induced climate change. We are an industry services company that exists to further our industry’s efficiency and interests, and we believe current strategies to address climate change offer many opportunities for our industry. Consequently, we are promoting the advantages of wood products as low energy, CO2 absorbing materials. Even if the effect of human activity on climate turns out to be less than currently thought, this can’t be a bad thing!

(Question edited for space reasons - note that with a new US administration, the Minority Senate Report is no longer available via the above link.)

Q. How can we remove and store some CO2 we produce?

Research organisations are looking at innovative ways of storing CO2, including putting it deep underground. A more immediately available strategy is simply to plant trees and use more wood products. Trees absorb CO2 and convert it to cellulose, one of the major “building blocks” of wood. Every product made from wood is a carbon store, so if we continue to build our houses with timber frames and furnish them with wood products we are helping to store carbon. For more information, click on the tab on our Naturally Better website that says “Building with Wood”.

WoodSolutions

Did you know?

In 2008 seventy percent of known old-growth are in nature conservation reserves.