Yale Climate Connections - Jeff Masters Weather Blog

California’s forests are packed with dead trees. Harvesting them could cut wildfire risk. » Yale Climate Connections

California has more than 30 million acres of forests. Many are densely packed with small trees or trees that have been killed by beetles. 

Removing some of the small and dead trees would make the forests more resilient to drought, pests, and wildfires.  

“If these dead trees burn or rot en masse, that’s going to emit a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that from a climate change perspective, we can’t afford,” says Sandra Lupien, director of mass timber at Michigan State University. 

She says it’s possible to use this low-value wood to create mass timber products.

These engineered wood products are made by gluing or nailing smaller pieces of wood together. The technique can be used to create panels, posts, and beams that are strong enough to be used in place of steel or concrete.

Lupien says using small-diameter and dead trees to make mass timber would create a market demand for removing them and lock the carbon they contain into buildings.

“If we’re able to use that type of wood in a product that stores carbon for a really long time, that will really help create a better and more resilient forest situation, as well as reduce the potential greenhouse gas emissions from these materials,” she says. 

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media 

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