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Big Timber: The process a tree goes through before it can be used for your project

What is Big Timber?

Big Timber debuted on Netflix in July 2021, and is making its way up the rankings, but was first aired on the History Channel in 2020. The series shines a spotlight on Kevin Wenstob, a logger and sawmill owner based on Klitsa Mountain in Vancouver Island, Canada. Kevin and his team carry out a dangerous job every day to keep his family and business afloat, supplying some of the best timber in the world. They make great profits but take huge risks for good pay-outs.

The series is full of action, adventure, and millions of dollars on the line. Creating an element of suspense as well as offering educational content for those interested in the process and the industry.

Many viewers are fascinated to see just how vast Canadian forests are and how small the crew are compared to the trees, which can be worth around £30,000 each! The series gives an inside insight into the industry, the challenges faced and just how dangerous logging can be. Viewers are able to see what goes on behind the scenes of a multi-billion-pound industry.

What is logging?

Logging is the business of felling, cutting, and preparing timber for transportation to be used in a variety of industries for a wide range of uses.

For legitimate practices, the logging company have to purchase a permit to log a certain section of the forest. Knowing which section to select, that will yield the best Cedar and Hemlock (renowned in Vancouver) requires years of knowledge and experience. The permit is granted by the Government under the strict understanding that any trees felled will be touching the road or trackside, ready to be loaded onto transport. Any trees remaining on the ground or not touching the road or trackside will be charged back to the logging company if they are not moved by the end of the permit date. In the case of Big Timber, this could cost $75 per metre, which could easily bankrupt the operation, costing millions of dollars. So, it is vital to follow the correct procedures and conditions of the permits granted for logging.

Once the trees have been logged, they are taken to the sawmill where a machining process factors the material into slabs for drying and dimensioning. These can be used to fulfil rough sawn orders or can be further machined for profiling for more bespoke requirements such as cladding and decking, like we offer at QTD Ltd.

The extraction systems used within this machining process handle all the waste material such as sawdust which is either repurposed into briquettes or taken away to heating and biomass plants. Scandinavian countries have this process well organised, as much of their waste is purchased by heating and biomass companies.

However, in the UK, timber companies and sawmills must pay for their waste to be removed before it is sold on. This currently incurs large costs and overheads. Hopefully, in the future, the UK government, alongside a nationwide pledge to be eco-friendlier and more sustainable will look at this in more detail and will make it easier to utilise material wastage.

Logging is not the same as deforestation

Logging can often be confused with deforestation. However, they are certainly not the same.

Legitimate logging involves regulated practices where trees are allowed to be cut down and will be replaced. Many people see the logging industry as a symbol for all the environmental problems that we currently face. When left unchecked, logging can cause soil erosion and habitat destruction. However, Wenstob’s forests and practices are completely sustainable and regulated. Much the same as the sources which accumulate our own timber from.

On the other hand, deforestation is the random destruction of forests. Often used to make room for the agricultural industry. This is not regulated. Due to the irresponsible destruction of forests such as the Amazon Rainforest, the logging industry constantly deals with negative press, although the practices are not related.

Sustainable logging is doing our environment a favour

As mentioned previously, the practices demonstrated in Big Timber are fully regulated and sustainable. The Wenstob’s take pride in being stewards of the environment, and are dedicated to sustainable practices, as members of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

There are many ways in which logging can be beneficial to the environment. Trees are a renewable resource and as long as the process is regulated, trees can be replanted and regrown. This is generally overseen by forest management services and government organisations. The Wenstob’s and other regulated logging bodies help to clean up forests by replanting two trees for every one that is cut down, as well as targeting non-native plants, pruning the natural ecosystem of invasive species.

When performed in a sustainable manner, logging and forestry actually act as a carbon sink. Which means they take as much, or more carbon from the atmosphere as they put into it.

Big Timber highlights just how brutal the logging industry can be, with constant challenges from Mother Nature as well as local wildlife and the danger of working on a mountainside. The Wenstob’s are constantly busy and are said to only take about two Fridays off a year because their business is in such high demand. Cutting down trees is only a small portion of what they do, there are other important activities that aren't shown in Big Timber such as safety meetings, as a part of daily life.

Where can I watch Big Timber?

You can stream and binge-watch Big Timber on Netflix!

QTD Ltd sources all of our ThermoWood’s from FSC and PEFC certified forests, our British-grown range is also sourced from sustainably managed forests. To learn more about what QTD Ltd are doing for the environment, read about our Tree Planting initiative here.

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