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Topsoil loss in timber production: a thermal mass equivalent?

Matthew Parnell - Monday, January 04, 2010

One thing that is never touched on with wood production cycle is the loss of topsoil with every harvest cycle. I know it is considerable – having seen many examples of such loss. It would be interesting to know how many tonnes of topsoil are lost per tonne of finished wood product.

Also, if we consider each tonne of topsoil lost as equivalent to a tonne of thermal mass ie a “quarried” product, is timber that much better than brick, concrete etc?

I have never seen any research on this issue, as I think the timber industry is loathe to publish topsoil loss data. Massive topsoil loss, especially in rainforests means that yields will fall over harvest cycles. This is a potential long-term sustainability problem.

Does anyone know of any research on this topic?

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About Dr. Matthew Parnell - With a built environment background, Dr. Parnell's specialty is buildings and their environmental impacts. Greensynergy Consulting is also active in bringing about change by developing the capacity of people, communities and organizations to adopt sustainable practices and develop strong sustainability cultures.
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