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What is Conservation Grade Wood & Why We Love It

ConservationGradeWoodBlog3Picture300pxConservation Grade is our own grade of wood- rich in knots, burls, mineral streaks, pronounced grain patterns, and all the naturally occurring character marks that result from the real life experiences of Appalachian trees. Conservation wood is far more than just a beautiful grade of wood though. It is environmental stewardship in action- directly promoting healthy forests.

Every time clear or straight grain wood is specified, it drives loggers to go after all of the largest, straightest trees in the forest. This practice is called high grading, to “cut the best and leave the rest". When this practice is repeated over time, it drives down timber quality and overall forest health, because it selects against the very traits that some find desirable, and leaves trees that may be less hearty and healthy. In their article, Forestry Practices to Avoid: Just Say No To High-Grading (Fall 2004 Volume 7 Issue 2), The U.S. Forest Service wrote, "Because the healthiest trees with the fewest defects are harvested, the overall health of the forest is reduced. The remaining trees may be more susceptible to the effects of insects, pathogens, strong winds, or ice storms and less able to recover after these disturbances occur. Often high-grading emphasizes cutting a few select species. This trend reduces tree species diversity and can impact wildlife that depend on the harvested species for food or shelter".

And, since it is impossible for even the straightest tree to yield perfectly consistent lumber, free from character, specifying clear grades of wood also promotes waste at the mill level.

In contrast, specifying Conservation wood allows for forests to be managed for their health, not just profitability. Moreover, since the entire tree can be used, there is far less waste at the mill.

In addition to these practical reasons to specify Conservation wood, there are great aesthetic reasons, too. We have seen an exciting move away from strict uniformity in architecture.

Carol Trefethern, an interior decorator who works with architects in Boston, commented "There is definitely a greater yearning for personal signature and stamp on today's home interiors" Cookie cutter construction is no longer in vogue where the dollars are spent (in architecture, building and design). Trefethern, added "Current trends show clients taking a true interest in the detail of their homes as never before. Gone are the 50's when homeowners wanted what their neighbor had, down to the martini".

In the realm of interior finishes, this has meant a shift away from the default specification of clear straight grained wood, towards an appreciation of the natural character inherent in trees. Every tree is unique, of course, and as a result, just like fingerprints, no two pieces of wood will ever be perfectly alike. Instead of looking at the diversity and richness of character marks that occur naturally in trees as flaws, our customers choose to embrace our wood for its striking beauty and spirited individuality. Using freshly harvested wood that comes with a historic, bold look not only allows a unique, personalized feel for any space, a real plus is the warmth it adds. The lived-in, rich feeling in what otherwise looks too "new". Additionally, the variations of subtle colorings, patterns and textures found in Conservation wood opens up a wide range of color palettes for a creative paring of decor elements such as fabrics, paint colors and other interior accents, which add dimension and personal style to a space.

Our Conservation Grade wood is certified by The Forest Stewardship Council, the most respected independent certifier of sustainable forest products.

Are you planning or working on a project that would be perfect for Conservation Grade materials? Do you have a favorite character-rich species? We'd love to hear from you! Please share your comments below.

For more information about our Conservation Grade wood and other products, give us a call and talk to our team:

855.WOODRIGHT (855.966.9744)