The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The OneOak Project of Britain

Watching the footage of the downed trees from Hurricane Sandy, I found myself mentally drifting from the plight of the poor folks to thinking of all the nice lumber that is about to be harvested, and hopefully, sawn into lumber. (I know, bad...but honest!) I was reminded of the story of the OneOak project in the UK. Although not a tree downed in a storm, the OneOak was an historic old monarch that was harvested as part of an educational effort. And what great wood it produced.

The Sylva Foundation in the United Kingdom states its mission as "reviving Britain's wood culture", which is a sentiment most readers of Go Wood will sympathize with and support. The Foundation has an excellent website dedicated to the project, which you can visit here.
From the outset, the incentive of the Sylva Foundation has been to bring people closer to the importance of woodlands and of wood in modern society. With this in mind, the felling, in January 2010, was witnessed by 250 school children and 200 other guests. A year later they were invited back to each plant a young oak, so fulfilling a cycle of sustainable forest management. 
The tree was grown initially for its timber, being planted in 1788; the year The Times was first published, when Mozart was working on his last symphony and when the French Revolution was just beginning to stir. It became the most studied oak tree in Britain: it has been weighed, measured with lasers to create a 3D model, studied by a dendrochronologist, and had its carbon content estimated. It has also been featured by dozens of artists, sculptors and photographers. Now, it is being brought to Edinburgh thanks to funding from the Scottish Forestry Trust.
The foundation held an exhibit this month of the tree's products, and an impressive one it was. The photograph on the left is an example of some of the fine utilization of the wood from the old oak. Click here to view more of the exhibit.

The best part of Sylva's effort was in using the project to educate local children, and instill in them the natural affinity for wood that results from understanding where it comes from. And how it is produced.

The video below is a compelling capture of the educational experience, as well as the excellent technique used by the foresters, loggers, and sawyers that processed the OneOak. The best moment of the video is about five minutes in, when the children begin to buzz and cheer with excitement as the feller begins his work...and the excitement reaches a peak as the children begin to chant "Chop it down, chop it down, chop it down!" You hear a gasp of excitement as the tree leans, and then crashes to the ground with that distinctive crackling thud that only a falling tree can make. And the kids squeal and break into applause.

It's an American environmentalist's worse nightmare come true.

OneOak-project launch and tree felling from Conrad Weiskrantz on Vimeo.

Go Wood applauds the Sylva Foundation of the UK for its dedication to the good cause of wood education and appreciation.

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