Proper timber management good for the environment, the integrity of the forest, and for a long term business plan which is very important for a family business harvesting an agricultural crop that takes decades to grow.
Larry Hickman, the 2nd generation owner of Hickman Lumber, has a special passion for timber management.
He was born into the sawmill life and other than some military service his life has been spent in the woods and mill. Running a sawmill paid the bills, but his passion has always been the forest, trees, and nature of all sorts. He’s learned how to manage forests to grow tall straight trees to create beautiful wood products and provide for his family. He has learned to grow at least 3 trees growing for every one harvested. This is important for the long-term stability of the family business (now in its 4th generation), and it’s very important for the planet and the forest.
Above all, it’s important to know that cutting trees is not anti-environment. Anyone who works in the timber industry will be the first to tell you that they love trees and nature and that we need to keep our forests healthy and thriving.
The trees cut become lumber sold by Hickman Lumber for furniture, doors, building materials, etc. Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring uses this lumber for their flooring. These lumber products store the carbon the tree sequestered for hundreds of years. The open forest space allows the younger trees, which are absorbing carbon at a much faster rate, to grow. Therefore, overall removing more carbon from the atmosphere and storing carbon in quality products in our homes. It’s truly a win-win.
Let’s think about the life of a wood product. 100 + year old oak floors are sanded and finished in homes today and can last decades longer. This wood was from a tree harvested in say, 1920. That oak tree was probably around 100 years old when harvested (started to grow in the early 1800s). The carbon is stored longer in that wood floor than it would have lived in a tree!
Hickman Lumber was FSC Certified in 1999, however long term, sustainable timber management has always been important to Larry Hickman
Larry has a lifetime’s worth of knowledge that cannot be learned from reading a book. He has hours and hours over his 80 plus years of life that he has observed mother nature at work. He understands that treating the forest like a garden will help mother nature grow healthier forests. Healthier for the environment and his business.
Hickman Lumber was FSC Certified in 1999 and they were the first sawmill to be FSC certified through Smartwood, now Preferred by Nature. Proper timber management was nothing new for the Hickman Family but with the certification, they had the 3rd party annual audit for additional verification that they were doing it right.
Check out the videos above showing how we selectively harvest trees in the forest to create an opening in the canopy. This opening will allow the sun to reach the forest floor and let the young saplings grow. A properly managed forest is one that you can not see far through. It’s important to have a diversity of species and ages of trees. This is good for the forest’s health, wildlife, and long-term growth.
We don’t plant seeds. We allow mother nature to naturally regenerate the trees, we just help speed up the process a little.
Top Video – filmed in 2020 2nd video filmed in 2012
Here are some numbers to help understand the timber management results for one of our FSC Certified Properties.
Location: Southern Venango County , Pennsylvania
History: clear cut in 1950s Hickman purchased the property in 1965 and the first commercial cut was in 1989.
Management Plan: uneven age management.
Species: mostly mixed hardwoods. Red Oak, White Oak, Hickory, Beech, Maple
1989 – 716,930 bf
1998 – 597,300 bf
2007 – 752,100 bf
2017 – 1,021,900 bf
1989 – 219,630 bf (salvage)
1998 – 70,000 bf
2007 – 146,000 bf
2017 – 101,700 bf
UNDERSTANDING THESE NUMBERS: It’s truly remarkable. WORKING FORESTS WORK!
This property was clear-cut in the 1950s. The standing timber inventory in 1989, before the salvage cut was 716,930 Board Feet (bf). In 28 Years this forest has been harvested 4 times, removing OVER 500,000 Board Feet (bf) of timber and in 2021 we have over 1 Million Board Feet of standing timber!
Why is cutting down trees good for the environment?
First of all, trees don’t live forever. The useful life of a hardwood tree in PA varies with species and environment, but it is anywhere from 60 – 120 years until the tree has a greater risk of dying from various stressors; disease, insects, climate changes, etc. Harvesting these trees at their prime, like any other agricultural crop, will allow the wood from the tree to have additional life as a beautiful, useful product. Second of all, these wood products will store carbon. Remember, if the tree dies naturally or burns the carbon is released back into the atmosphere. If old trees are left in the forest, they are still storing carbon, but the overall rate of carbon sequestration of the forest decreases. Then you also risk the old trees dying without being utilized. Therefore, delaying harvest will increase the chances of wasted wood, you won’t store the carbon, and you’ll lose time that younger trees could have been quickly absorbing carbon as they rapidly grow.
In summary, if you want to help save the planet, have more trees, reduce carbon and enjoy life as we know it, we should be using more wood products and using them for generations!
updated: September 2021