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Quanex Custom Components & the Environment

Why It Is Important To Responsibly Harvest Trees

The hardwoods used by Quanex Custom Components (QCC) grow primarily in areas east of the Mississippi River. These forests are largely privately owned. Hardwood forests consist of a variety of different wood species – e.g., hard maple, soft maple, red oak, aspen, cherry, and yellow poplar to name a few that we use extensively in our company. Hardwood forest species makeup differs by factors present in the local region such as weather conditions, soil type, and access to moisture. The forest is not planted, but regenerates naturally after timber harvest or other events such as a storms or fires.

Hardwood forests also consist of trees with different age classes, thus mature trees, saplings, and seedlings all co-exist in a healthy hardwood forest. The life cycle of a tree is much like our life cycle, we are all born and some day we will all die; the same is true for trees. Once a tree reaches senescence or “old age” in our terms, it stops absorbing carbon and enters a period of decline, much like we do when we age. During this period of decline, the tree is not necessarily dead, but is not growing any longer. This makes the tree much more susceptible to storm damage, attack from insects and decay.

By harvesting the tree at an age prior to decline, this helps rejuvenate the forest. Removing the mature timber results in disruption to the soil and light can now reach areas that were previously shaded. Seeds from other trees in the forest  sprout and quickly begin to grow in the same area the mature tree was harvested. These younger trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and grow much quicker than mature trees. This process has continued for millions of years – the forest is “renewed” by this continuous life cycle. The growth of hardwood in the forest exceeds removal by 2.3 to one—meaning for every tree that is harvested, there is the equivalent of 2.3 growing in its place.

Products Made from Trees

In looking at the components we make at QCC to beautify kitchens, windows, and room interiors, we likely do not consider how trees are used to make a wide variety of other products. The carton your Amazon order arrives in was made from a tree. So was the newspaper or magazine sitting in your mailbox. Toilet paper, tissues and diapers are all made from tree-based products. When you fire up a Traeger pellet grill, those many flavors of pellets, apple, cherry, oak and hickory all come from trees. Furniture in your home is likely constructed of wood or wood-based materials. White oak barrels provide the flavor in both bourbons and wines. Society would be much different without this renewable source of raw material used to enhance our everyday lives.

Environmental Benefits

Not only are wood based products renewable, but they also sequester (“store”) carbon. A primary cause of global warming is the release of carbon via burning of fossil fuels. But carbon is also released back into the atmosphere when trees decay in the forest. Thus, if we harvest trees and put the lumber into timber framing, cabinetry, millwork, flooring and furniture we are tying up carbon for generations and leaving open areas in the forest allowing new trees to grow and sequester even more carbon. If we manage our forests responsibly, we will always have a supply of forest products.

All in all, we should not feel bad about the products we make from wood, but rather celebrate that we can work with this unique resource and help our customers enjoy it in their homes.

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