The Growing Economy of Salvaged Urban Wood


| 4/14/2016 9:32:00 AM


New York Heartwoods owner Megan Offner

New York Heartwoods (NYH) began in 2010, with the help of Dave and Steve Washburn, Hugh Herrera, myself, and a portable sawmill. Our plan to manage and harvest trees ourselves was scratched when we realized how many were falling over, dying and being removed by arborists.

Multiple severe storms and several invasive insect epidemics have led to unprecedented challenges to our forests and communities while budgets of municipalities and landowners are stretched with the reoccurring removals of downed or dying trees. Landfills across the country are struggling to keep up with the amount of wood waste that is being generated and at the same time, people need jobs and communities are evolving to become more resilient.

By processing urban wood, we participate in creating solutions: reducing wood disposal expenses, redirecting material from our waste stream, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, fueling the demand for local wood products, and growing an exciting new economy.

Urban Wood in Perspective

According to Stephen M. Bratkovich from the USDA Forest Service,“In the United States, over 200 million cubic yards of urban tree and landscape residue are generated every year. Of this amount, 15 percent is classified as ‘unchipped logs’. To put this figure in perspective, consider that if these logs were sawn into boards, they theoretically would produce 3.8 billion board feet of lumber, or nearly 30 percent of the hardwood lumber produced annually in the United States."



Due to annual weather events like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, along with the arrival of pests, such as the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), we have access to more logs than we are equipped to process. Harvesting logs ourselves is labor-intensive and, therefore, in most cases, cost-prohibitive at our scale.



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