The Value of Forests
Forests provide myriad environmental benefits. They purify our air. They keep runoff and silt from entering waterways and their root systems filter pollutants. Forests are also hotspots of biodiversity.
Trees provide our economy with a critical renewable resource. Wood is the chief building material for structures around the world. Firewood provides heat for homes and cooking. Forests support many activities such as hiking, hunting, and tourism.
The value of forests extends beyond environmental and economic benefits. Forests are a place to retreat and experience the cathartic aspects of nature. They can help us to center ourselves spiritually.
Forests Under Pressure
For all that they provide for us, we tend to treat forests poorly, and they are suffering.
The world is losing forests faster than they are growing, and that trend has accelerated in recent decades. Large scale clear-cutting for agriculture and settlements is a primary reason for decline. Fencerow-to-fencerow agriculture for commodity crops leaves little space for natural vegetation and trees. Urban and industrial development continue to make inroads into forests.
The remaining forests are negatively impacted by several factors. Negligent forestry practices such as high-grading and heavy equipment damage leave poor quality forest behind. Invasive species of plants and insects cause decline in forest health, even in woodlands left untouched by humans. And a rapidly changing climate challenges forests to adapt.
At Sylvan Craft, we envision a world filled with vibrant, biodiverse forests and clean air and water. A world that can withstand the effects of climate change, where everyone has access to the beauty and regenerative qualities of forests.
Our mission is to preserve and restore forests through sustainable forestry and land management. The forest we currently manage is owned by co-founder Chris. We intend to acquire additional acreage in the future to expand our operation. Our mission is funded through the marketing of functional and artistic woodcraft made in partnership with local artisans.
Our Forestry Management Practices
We follow a forestry management plan (FMP) for our property, and we’re proud that our practices go above and beyond the recommendations of the FMP.
Part of our land was surface-mined for coal over 60 years ago and still bears the scars of that activity. To help restore the forest, we’ve planted over 10,000 trees in open areas. We continue to plant trees in spaces that need encouragement.
Control of Invasive Plants
An ongoing challenge is controlling invasive plants. Vines such as Oriental bittersweet and wild grapes can pull down trees and take over sections of forest if left unchecked. Multiflora rose and autumn olive create impenetrable thickets and crowd out hardwood seedlings. Fast-growing invasive trees like ailanthus also threaten the development of native species. When taking out invasive plants, we avoid using chemical herbicides if at all possible, instead relying on organic techniques (and hard work!).
Promoting Species Diversity
Our goal is to promote a diversity of native tree and plant species in our woodland. This encourages forest resiliency and provides food and habitat for countless creatures. In addition to controlling invasive plants, we take care to ensure that our forest isn’t dominated by one or two types of tree. We want all naturally-occurring native species to have a chance to grow.
We engage in selective harvesting to provide wood for our products. Most of the wood we use is salvage – we prioritize harvesting trees that are damaged or standing dead. We also remove diseased trees to make room for healthier ones and help prevent the spread of disease.