A Blog by John Halkett

Category: Wood products (Page 1 of 2)

Used around the world for construction in seawater

Turpentine timber is durable in exposed positions and is highly resistant to damage by fire and attack by white ants and marine borers.

Another preeminent Australian tree is turpentine, renowned throughout the world for its durability, especially for use for heavy construction for jetties, wharves and in other seawater environments.

Turpentine is a large tree usually 40-45 metres in height in 1.0-1.3 metres in diameter, but not uncommonly attaining 55 metres in height in a from 2.0-2.5 metres in diameter on optimum sites. The trunk is straight and of good form with little taper up to two-thirds… Read more “Used around the world for construction in seawater”

Tree that powered the development of civilisation

10,000 years ago, vast cedar forests stretched across the eastern Mediterranean towards Mesopotamia and what is now southwestern Iran.

The cedar of Lebanon or Lebanese cedar is a species of tree in the pine family, native to the mountains of the Eastern Mediterranean basin. It is a large evergreen conifer that has great religious and historical significance in the cultures of the Middle East, and is referenced many times in the literature of ancient civilisations.

It is no exaggeration to say that the magnificent cedar of Lebanon played a crucial role in the development of civilisation. We … Read more “Tree that powered the development of civilisation”

The red cedars of Neverland

Recently I was fortunate to have had a tree adventure in Neverland, where I was privileged to spend some time with Peter Pan and Wendy. True! Neverland is a property in the Illawarra region of NSW, and is the home of Peter and Wendy McAra, better known as Peter Pan and Wendy.

They are both distinguished retired academics, and although you wouldn’t think so to look at him Peter is also a much celebrated author of numerous romantic novels and stage plays. But in addition to these interests, and perhaps best of all, Peter and Wendy are red cedar enthusiasts with a red cedar plantation and area of native… Read more “The red cedars of Neverland”

When it’s cold the tough get going

The realm of the Siberian larch.

The largest forested region on the planet is the boreal coniferous tract, which accounts for about a third of the Earth’s total forest cover and dwarfs tropical rainforests. Boreal forests blanket a swathe around the Arctic Circle, across Alaska and into northern Canada. They cover about eight million square kilometres of Siberia alone, where they are known as the taiga. Vast amounts of carbon are lock up there, with so much biomass that worldwide levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen fluctuate markedly in time with northern seasons. This is the realm of … Read more “When it’s cold the tough get going”

From primitive rafts to speedy bombers

The world’s lightest hardwood continues to be widely grown. Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) is a large, fast-growing tree native from southern Mexico to southern Brazil, but can now be found in many other countries, including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Solomon Islands.

Balsa trees can establish themselves in forest clearings or on abandoned agricultural fields and grow extremely rapidly. Their speed of growth accounts for the lightness of the wood, which has a lower density than cork. Trees generally do not live beyond 30 to 40 years. Balsa is widely cultivated … Read more “From primitive rafts to speedy bombers”

More than just wine bottle stoppers

Cork oak, Quercus suber a medium-sized, evergreen tree is the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses. It is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It grows to up to 20 metres, although it is typically more stunted in its native environment.

Cork oaks commonly live more than 200 years. Cork harvesting is done entirely without machinery. The European cork industry produces 340,000 tonnes of cork a year, with a value of €1.5 billion and employs 30,000 people.

The cork is used to make a wide range of products in addition to wine bottle stoppers, including insulation… Read more “More than just wine bottle stoppers”

Rubber … from the Spanish Court to pneumatic tyres

Rubber trees (Hevea bransiliensis) are tall deciduous trees growing to a height of up to 45 metres in the wild, but cultivated trees are usually much smaller because drawing off latex restricts growth. The inner bark oozes latex when damaged.

Native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, rubber trees where originally called caoutchouc, from the indigenous cauchy, or ‘weeping wood’. The rubber tree is a member of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family. Its creamy latex is a suspension in water of about 50 per cent rubber ready to be excluded and quickly… Read more “Rubber … from the Spanish Court to pneumatic tyres”

New Book Now Available

My sixth book: By the light of the Sun: Trees, wood, photosynthesis and climate change has now been published. The mission of this book is to detail how to better harness the power of the products of photosynthesis to offset adverse climate change. Specifically this book asserts that trees and forests, plus wood products, will be even more important in assisting to tackle climate change, and in contributing to a sustainable energy and carbon neutral future.
This book details how trees and forests will be a critical ingredient in the search for a zero net carbon emissions future. Not only do trees… Read more “New Book Now Available”

Jungle book now available

Billed as the Book of the Month for September Jungle Jive: Sustaining the forests of Southeast Asia takes a constructive look at jungle conservation, arguing that implementing economic measures that value jungle trees is the way to sustain them and their biological values. The central thesis of the book is the need to inject a dose of economic realism into a subject that has been long on superlatives and emotion, but short on commercial reality.
The book sets out an argument for that in part lies in the increasing prospects of sustainable, legally verified wood production and climate change abatement… Read more “Jungle book now available”

Radiata pine – ‘super wood’ of the 21st century

Pine plantations began to be established in Australia from the 1870s as insurance against diminishing supplies of timber from native forests. Early attempts to find suitable pine plantation species for Australian conditions gave rise to planting trials using a wide variety of species. Pines from north and central America, Europe and the Mediterranean, from the Himalayas and Eastern Asia were all tried.

While several showed promise, the most successful was Monterey or radiata pine. This species grows naturally only in three small localities on the central Californian coast, in an area … Read more “Radiata pine – ‘super wood’ of the 21st century”

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