Timber With A Low Carbon Footprint

River redgum planks and slabs (2014) milled by Geoff Bromilow

Geoff Bromilow cuts and mills timber in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula; he sources his timber from urban and fringe rural properties which need tree removal because of fire hazard or property (and personal) damage risk. Bromilow owns a mobile Lucas mill and enjoys the opportunity to transform logs that might otherwise be wasted into a viable, low-carbon resource for consumers.

The Lucas Mill is easily transported from one site to the next.

He is adamant that locally-sourced timber will significantly reduce one’s carbon footprint for two reasons: because there is no lengthy transportation of the product, but more importantly, because we can leave undisturbed the complex eco-systems of rainforest areas – which are the ‘lungs’ of the planet and home to most of the world’s biodiversity of plant and animal life.

Our biodiversity is precious.

According to Bromilow: 

When I travelled to more than ten countries this year, I was shocked to witness the lack of biodiversity in other places. My wife constantly commented on the lack of plant and animal species; we came back to Australia with a new understanding of the importance of sustainability.

So often people don’t realise the wood they purchase from timber merchants and hardware stores has an extremely high carbon footprint. Much non-plantation timber is logged out of rainforest areas in South-East Asia and Central America. This is simply not a sustainable practice for our planet. Despite allegedly sustainable forest logging, the rate of deforestation has barely dipped over the past 20 years and is currently at 13 million hectares per year, according to experts such as Barbara Zimmerman (International Conservation Fund for Canada, cited in Hance, 2012).

Timber salvaged from the Adelaide Hills (2014)

Bromilow is heartened by the positive responses of his clients to the potential for salvaging sawn timber from their own backyards. He cuts down non-native trees such as cedrus dieodara (Himalayan cedar), cypressus macrocarpa (Monterrey cyprus), juniperis bermudiana (Juniper), picea excelsa (common spruce), pinus radiata (Radiata pine), pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine), sequoia sempervirens (Californian redwood) and indigenous hardwoods such as eucalyptus obliqua (Australian oak), eucalyptus camaldulensis (river redgum) and eucalyptus leucoxylon (SA bluegum). The timber can be used for general purpose carpentry, building, furniture and second-fix (e.g. skirting boards, bar-tops, kitchen benches).

Pinus radiata (radiata pine) (on left) sourced locally and used to line a shed (2014).

Bromilow suggests that ‘the more people experience the recovery and usage of local timbers, the more likely they will realise there is an effective, low-carbon alternative to importing rainforest timbers.’ As part of his business model, he offers free advice on how best to recover your own resource. 

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