The region of Western Australia is a special corner of the world – now one of my favourite places for bush walking and just being out in the woolly wild. Well, it could be if I lived there Much of the plant life in these forests is unique to the south-west of Western Australia. Trees such as the tingle only occur in this small area and as such provide a window to the past. Some of the plants have origins that can be traced back 65 million years to the super continent Gondwana when Australia was joined with what are now Africa, India, Antarctic and South America.
This year we had such good weather for our annual Corporate Camp-out on Galiano Island (Montague Harbour). As usual there was delicious food (beer-braised hot dogs with sauerkraut…. whaaat?!) and other fun water related activities.
Trees can be choosy needing certain amounts of moisture, nutrients and sunlight. Some are more demanding growing only in certain parts of the province. For example, Pacific arbutus (madrone) occurs only in southern coastal areas within a few kilometres of the ocean where the winter climate is moderate and summers warm. It likes dry areas; especially prone to rocky outcrops and plenty of sunlight.
Because trees vary in their ability to tolerate environmental conditions, British Columbia sees a variety of ecosystems throughout the province, from lush coastal rain forests to dry, open grasslands and subalpine areas. But time shifts everything and ecosystems are constantly changing. Disturbances, whether caused by nature or people, will affect plant communities over time. Who knows what the future holds for the diversity of our forests.
For the now, I wanted to identify four of the more commonly used indigenous hardwood species we see at West Wind Hardwood. Not all are commercially logged; often we see leftovers from logging cleanup or perhaps trees cleared from agriculturally designated land.
While softwoods are generally known for their structural applications, hardwoods are generally seen in the interiors of our homes. They have long been used in the production of cabinetry, furniture and flooring for their durability, beauty and warmth.
BIG LEAF MAPLE – acer macrophyllum
Logger – usually refers to a number of workers whose job it is to harvest timber and bring it to a mill. The term “lumberjack” is similar to logger but is not used in BC. It is an eastern North American term.
Faller – Fallers are specialists who may have voluntarily become certified for this dangerous position. They are specifically trained to hand fall trees and are highly skilled.
Forester – usually refers to a Registered Professional Forester (RPF). Foresters have university degrees, or equivalent, specializing in forestry and have spent at least two years articling before passing a rigorous registration exam.
Tech or Technologist – usually refers to a Registered Forest Technologist (RFT). RFTs have a two-year college diploma, or equivalent, in forestry and have spent at least two years articling before passing a rigorous registration exam.
Accredited Timber Cruiser (ATC) – a cruiser is a specialist who is trained to accurately figure out how much and the quality of each tree species is available for harvesting. A cruiser has on-the-job training and must demonstrate competency before being allowed to use the title ATC. Note that RPFs & RFTs may also be ATCs.
Accredited Timber Evaluator (ATE) – a timber evaluator is a specialist similar to an ATC however, the timber evaluator has more experience and is able to supervise a team of cruisers. Like ATCs, ATEs must demonstrate their competency before being allowed to use the ATE designation. Note that RPFs & RFTs may also be ATEs.
We purchased a Chinese Pepper tree about 20+ years ago. The tree flourished and grew with the exception of some significant branches that didn’t survive this past winter; one of our many winter casualties this year. Shelley trimmed them and left along the drive way; hoping it might catch the eye of someone for removal. And someone did! However, that person, being a true wood addict, thought some use could be found. It took a week of walking past these branches before I came up with the idea of a tree bench.
This past Sunday afternoon, after “Shelley” chores J I spent an hour in my shop. I used the ‘develop-as-you-go’ design process. And one hour later, voila, my tree bench now sits outside the Flooring Gallery – Joel’s habitat. Beyond Joel, it attracts birds…………….and other assorted folk. In its natural environment, it’s the host plant for several of Japan’s indigenous swallowtail butterfly species. We see this in the garden at home throughout the summer. And the bench is quite nice to sit on!
Also known as a Japanese pepper and Japanese prickly ash; botanically it is “Zanthoxylum piperitum”. It is a deciduous aromatic spiny shrub/small tree with a distinctly citrus smell to the leaves. Wicked spikes!! The plant is important commercially. The pulverized mature fruit (peppercorns) is the standard spice for sprinkling on broiled eel. It is also one of the seven main ingredients of the blended seven spice called shichimi. In all the year we’ve had this tree; it only developed the peppercorns once. Sadly, we didn’t realize we had a viable cash crop at that time, and every year since we cross our fingers.
Danny, our milling manager, brought back some stunning images from his camping trip to Clayoquot Arm this past January.