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EarthAnswers - What's in a Tree?

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How much of a harvested tree is actually used? Is there any waste?

The forest products industry has found uses for nearly every part of a tree, so virtually nothing is wasted.

Trees larger than 8 inches in diameter, if they are of suitable quality, are normally used in the production of solid wood products like lumber and veneer. Large trees unsuitable for solid wood products along with small trees between 4 and 8 inches in diameter, sawmill trimmings, and sawdust can be used to make paper, particle board, and many other products.

Cellulose and natural wood chemicals are extracted and used to make everything from plastics and food flavorings to photographic film and chewing gum. Bark is useful for producing dyes, adhesives, and medicines. It also can be ground or chipped to make garden mulch, or burned in furnaces to generate energy.

The leaves, needles, small branches, and roots are generally left in the forest to replenish the soil. This valuable organic matter prevents excessive runoff after rain and snow, and adds important nutrients to the soil to help nurture the next generation of trees.


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