Your Green Life: "Sustainable Forestry"

By KBJR News 1

August 9, 2012 Updated Aug 9, 2012 at 10:48 AM CDT

Cloquet, MN
Wood is needed for many products from paper, to cardboard, to the beams supporting your house.
But there is a misconception surrounding the foresting industry harming the environment, when in fact there are numerous practices in place designed specifically to protect the environment.

Gary Erickson is the Manager of Wood Fiber Procurement at Sappi and he said, "Harvesting is generally designed to mimic nature. Clear cutting is used where we would be imitating a fire or wind event, for a species like Aspen. Aspen need a lot of sunlight to regenerate."

A hundred years ago entire forests were clear cut to supply the booming industrial age.
Now a more scientific approach is used, balancing the needs of humans with the needs of the animals who live in the forest.

"I believe a diversity of forest types out on a landscape help provide a diverse habitat for all the different critters there are. There are some species, grouse and whitetail deer, that love young aspen forests, they live on the edges. There are other species that need large blocks of old timber." said Erickson.

Biodiversity is a balance of plant and animal within a certain ecological environment, and it's important to maintain that while harvesting timber.
But even outside the forest, the Sappi paper mill is using sustainable practices when manufacturing paper.

"The paper industry derives about 2/4 of its energy from renewable resources. Where as the Cloquet mill is over 85% renewable." Said the Director of Sustainable Management at Sappi Fine Paper, North America.

Sappi paper officials say the Cloquet mill is among the most sustainable and energy efficient mills in the country.
Their business plan calls for taking a renewable resource and turning it into a usable product, which in turn becomes recyclable material. Today's business plan is very different from the clear cutting done a century ago.

"We've made some very substantial improvements, just in my lifetime, with the actions of best management practices that are implemented." Said Erickson.

Wild fires, invasive beetles, and even blow downs are natural hazards to forests.
Experts say by utilizing sustainable forestry practices, harvesting timber can help to mitigate the damage of these hazardous events.

Meteorologist Adam Lorch