As an audience, we are so used to seeing trees and wood everywhere. We see it in the forests, parks, and even in our neighborhoods. But have you ever stopped to think about how long this has been going on for? Trees have been around for over 380 million years! That’s a long time! With that kind of history, it makes you wonder if we will ever run out of trees or wood materials. In this blog post, we will explore that topic further. Stay tuned!
Can we run out of trees or wood?
Trees are an important resource to humans, providing us with food, shelter, fuel and much more. As trees grow they can be used as building materials for houses and furniture; they provide fruit which is eaten by people all over the world; and of course we use firewood to heat our homes.
But if there were no trees then we would have a huge problem on our hands – where could we get all these things from? Well, it turns out that some scientists have been studying this very question. And their answer seems a bit surprising! The truth is that there are at least 10,000 billion tons of carbon stored in the earth’s woody biomass . This means that even though fewer new trees are growing than are being cut down, there’s still plenty of biomass to go around.
How do we use trees and wood in our everyday lives?
The most visible way that we use wood is for decoration. Wood makes up the structure of many buildings in cities, and wooden furniture makes homes look beautiful. However, when we think about growing biomass, it’s mostly food production that comes to mind. We grow a lot of trees in order to eat them!
In fact in 2008 approximately 36% of all harvested timber volume in the world was used for building . Also important  is fuelwood which made up around 25% of harvested timber volume in 2008 , and paper production which made up 17%, though this proportion has been decreasing since 1960 . There are also plenty of other things that we make from wood such as clothes, medicines and fertilizers too.
What would happen if we stopped using trees and wood altogether – what alternatives are there?
Another question that scientists have been looking into is whether it would be possible to actually run out of trees. To answer this, we first need to understand how wood is used and produced.
Currently there are three main ways that trees are grown for their biomass materials:
– Plantation forestry;
– Natural forest;
– Coppice (or coppicing) practices.
Plantation forestry is where you grow a single type of tree species in large numbers on plantations over many years, with the aim of selling them as raw material which can then be made into useful things like paper or fuel. The idea behind natural forests is similar but instead of planting one particular type of tree, foresters plant different types which will hopefully grow well together with a natural forest ecosystem.
Coppice is the oldest of these methods and comes from the words “coppiced tree” which means cut them down to stumps each time they grow back instead of cutting them right down to the ground. This method is often used for restoration of degraded land, or as a sustainable alternative for producing firewood and poles.