It is no secret that we think trees are amazing. There are multiple reasons why – they help to store massive amounts of carbon dioxide and create oxygen, purify groundwater, and because they provide a livelihood for people across the world. (Including us, thanks Trees!) They are major contributors to health and wellness across the planet. This is why it’s important that logging industries and human development don’t go too far in removing our primary forests without helping to create a balance. As of now, 30% of Earth’s landmass is covered by forests and while the rate of deforestation has slowed in the last decade, since 1990 the global forest area has decreased by 178 million hectares.
If this continues, not only will the people depending on the forestry industry be out of jobs but the climate-balancing biodiversity that forests provide will be at stake, driving the unfortunate consequences of climate change. Several solutions are in place to help replenish our forests. We ourselves at Treetime.ca and Coast to Coast Reforestation plant millions of tree seedlings every year in an effort to counteract deforestation. However, one of the more interesting solutions to deforestation is the ancient Japanese technique known as Daisugi that aims to provide an efficient and sustainable approach to forestry.
What is Daisugi?
Japan’s historical and elegant style of architecture created a need for the practice, as many of their homes and buildings of prominence required a lot of wood to create, and at that time they were already facing a lack of flat land and seedlings in order to keep up with production. Believed to have been brought about between the 14th and 15th centuries, Daisugi is a practice very similar to coppicing in the way that it manipulates the trees’ ability to create new shoots from their stump or roots if cut down. Daisugi, which translates roughly to ‘platform cedar,’ is the act of growing additional trees out of an existing one through careful control and pruning, much like one would with the creation of a bonsai tree.
The shoots are carefully pruned by hand every 2-4 years to ensure that they stay knot-free and they only leave the top boughs, which allows them to grow straight. Harvesting takes around 20 years and the base of the original tree can grow up to 100 shoots at a time.
The final result is slender cedar (Kitayama Cedar is commonly used) that is not only flexible but dense, making it a great choice for roof timber and building rafters. With harvesting every 20 years, it is a faster method when compared to others. The cedar has reportedly been known to be up to 140% as flexible as standard cedar and 200% as strong. Even though its ideal usage is in regards to building, the wood is used from everything from chopsticks to furniture. You can see why there’s a reason it’s still a popular practice 600 years later!