Frequently Asked Questions
  


1.) What does Forest Management mean?
2.) What is a plantation?
3.) Why were the trees planted?
4.) Why thin?
5.) At what age should thinning be done?
6.) What kind of plantations do we work in?
7.) Is Ontario Pine Forest Products Ltd. environmentally friendly?
8.) Do we clean up unsalvageable wood and slashings?
9.) What are slashings?
10.) What is a pre-commercial thinning?
11.) Do we charge for pre-commercial thinning?
12) At what point is the wood in my plantation of commercial value as a      saw log?
13.) At what point is the landowner paid for wood?
14) Why does the diameter of a tree have to be so large before it can be      used as lumber?
15.) Do we make furniture?
16.) Why pressure treated pine?
17.) If you are making fence posts out of the salvaged wood; do they not      have a commercial value and is this not now commercial thinning?
18.) How well are the posts pressure treated and is it safe?
19.) What is meant by a 4" post?


1.) What does Forest Management mean?
     Forest Management is an important process in keeping Ontario's forests healthy and productive. All elements in the forests ecosystem depend on each other: If one of these elements is damaged, then all are at risk. It is through proper Forest Management that we protect the forest ecosystem and ensure the sustainability for our future forests while also maintaining economic benefits. We determine which areas of the forest to protect, which areas we will harvest, and how we will renew our forests for the future. The health and growth of the forest is promoted by thinning, pruning and the selective cutting of diseased, bent, stunted, ice damaged and deformed trees.
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2.) What is a plantation?
     Plantations, are man made forests. They are normally planted in rows spaced from 5-9' apart with, trees being planted anywhere from 2-6' on center within the rows.
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3.) Why were the trees planted?
     Many years ago, Ontario landowners and farmers were encouraged to take marginal farmland out of production andplant plantations of coniferous trees as a long-term crop. If managed properly, coniferous plantations would, through many thinnings, produce an income and return the marginal land back to the original native hardwood. This was done to address serious problems relating to the lack of forest cover which include wind and water erosion of top soil; diminished surface and ground water retention and storage; diminished wildlife habitat; and limited forests to supply wood products. Under the provincial Forestry Act, "forestry purposes" include the production of wood and wood products, provision of proper environmental conditions for wildlife protection against floods and errosion, recreation and protection and production of water supplies.
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4.) Why thin?
     Thinning a coniferous plantation is for the benefit of the remaining trees, helping them survive and grow. It allows the trees to attain light and nutrients from the ground.
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5.) At what age should thinning be done?
     Pre-commercial Thinning should be done when the trees are between 20-40 years pf age. A commercial thinning can be done 15- 30 years later. However, age alone does not dictate when plantations should be thinned: Their rate of present growth and their room to grow determine when they should be thinned.
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6.) What kind of plantations do we work in?
     We manage and thin plantations of red and jack pine as well as tamarack. The salvageable wood from these is used in making fence posts.
     We also manage and thin plantations of white pine and spruce. The salvaged white pine and spruce are used for saw logs.
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7.) Is Ontario Pine Forest Products Ltd. environmentally friendly?
     Yes, Ontario Pine Forest Products Ltd. uses specially designed and built thinning harvesters and forwarders. Because of their special features, they have the ability to work in a plantation with minimal damage to the remaining trees or the forest floor.
     After pre-commercial thinning, both coniferous and deciduous (hardwoods) will start to grow. They have not grown before because of the lack of light. Natural regeneration will continue as the plantation is further thinned and a new stand will eventually take over from the original one creating a mixed forest. We, are managing a coniferous plantation so that it is sustainable and promote natural regenteration.
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8.) Do we clean up unsalvageable wood and slashings?
     No, the slashings and unsalvageable wood are left on the forest floor to naturally break down, and slowly add nutrients back to the soil. This material also reduces moisture evaporation and helps maintain the acidity of the soil. The slashings should not be mulched up and evenly spread over the forest floor as this seals the forest floor to the germination of seeds of any type. Left scattered on the forest floor, the slashings also provide a good seedbed for new trees, as well as a home for smaller creatures like rabbits, squirrels, snails and salamanders.
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9.) What are slashings?
     Slashings are the cut branches and the unsalvageable wood resulting from thinning the plantation.
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10.) What is a pre-commercial thinning?
     This is the first real thinning to open up the trees to light. It is accomplished by removing complete rows for present and future access, and by selectively removing live trees from within the remaining rows. Distorted, diseased and deformed trees are also removed at this time. The remaining trees can now get more light, and can use more of the moisture and nutrients in the soil to maintain good health and growth.
     The slashings and unsalvageable wood are left on the forest floor to rot down and slowly add more nutrients back into the soil for the benefit of the remaining trees.
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11.) Do we charge for pre-commercial thinning?
     In most cases, we do not charge for pre-commercial thinning provided we can keep the salvageable wood and there is enough to cover our costs. Some of the wood that is thinned can be salvaged and some cannot. Sometimes, what is salvaged will meet the cost of the thinning; however in some cases, there may be a cost for having the plantation thinned pre-commercially. During the pre-commercial thinning, we are culling the dead, diseased, distorted and otherwise poor quality trees, as well as some quality live ones. We are preparing your platation for future commercial viability.
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12) At what point is the wood in my plantation of commercial value as a saw log?
     To answer this question, we must first look at the finished product. The smallest, usable and marketable piece of wood that can be cut out of small diameter logs is either one piece of 4" X 4" or two pieces of 2" X 4".
     Marketable lumber is a minimum of 8' in length, so the log cut in the bush to produce that 8' piece of lumber will have to be 8' 6" (102") in length. This is to allow for trimming of checked or split (from drying) ends.
     All lumber is the same nominal square dimension for the full length of the piece, but a log normally has a taper to it, being bigger at the bottom than at the top. The smaller diameter of the two ends of a log, or the smallest diameter within the length of a log determines what can be produced out of the log. So, we must look at the diameter of the tree approximately 9' - 10' above ground level (102", or 8' 6" above where the tree would be cut at the stump) to determine if the diameter is great enough to produce an 8' long piece of finished lumber.
     To produce one piece of 4" X 4" X 8', or two pieces of 2" X 4" X 8' dressed lumber, a log with a minimum diameter of 8" at approximately 9' -10' above the ground is needed. That is a big tree! Yes, there are mills that will take smaller wood; but they are very specialized, are few in number, and not readily found in Southern Ontario.
     When the number of trees in a plantation meets these diameter criteria in enough of a quantity to pay for the cost of harvesting, shipping, and marketing the logs as a raw product with an acceptable profit to the harvester, the plantation has reached a point of commercial value. At this point, and only at this point, can the plantation be deemed to have a commercial value. When the plantation reaches this point, it is viable to pay for the wood, and we do so.
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13.) At what point is the landowner paid for wood?
     Normally, the landowner is paid at the stage of first commercial thinning when it is economically viable to do so. At the first commercial thinning, there should be very little bent, distorted, diseased or dead trees to contend with. All the wood that is to be removed is of a commercial value. The landowner is paid based on the value of the wood removed.
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14) Why does the diameter of a tree have to be so large before it can be used as lumber?
     Mother nature does not produce all trees that are perfectly straight and uniform in diameter.
     A log has a layer of bark on it that varies in thickness depending upon species.
     A log is round, and we want square sided lumber throughout.
     Once the piece of rough lumber is cut it must be planed down to give a smooth surface and only then is it a piece of dressed lumber.
     Also, let's not forget that the log is cut with a saw blade and the width of the saw blade is called a kerf. Saw blades in small wood mills, run in thickness of approximately 1/8" - ½" depending upon the sawmill. For our purposes we will use one in the middle at a ¼". This means that we now must add a ½" to all dimensions of the cant or squared piece of wood, cut from the log for one 4" X 4", and ¾" to one of the sides for two 2" X 4" pieces. Now the cant uses up a centre of the log that is 4 ½" X 4 ¾".
     In the sawmill, the log must be first squared, with the rounded pieces or slabs cut off. This produces the cant. Because of the taper, and /or deformities, the log will only square down to the biggest square that can be attained at the small end, or the smallest diameter of the log, to give a straight piece of lumber. A bent or twisted saw log will have to be bigger in diameter to produce the same piece that a straight log will produce.
     Therefore, when you take into consideration that you are sawing a square piece of lumber out of an imperfectly round, tapered, and not perfectly straight log with bark on it, normally a tree of approximately 8" at approximately 9' - 10' above ground is needed to make one 8' long piece of 4" X 4" or two 8' long pieces of 2 X 4" lumber. Most mills find it too costly to cut a log to obtain only one piece of 2" X 4".
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15.) Do we make furniture?
     No, Ontario Pine Forest Products Ltd. specializes in the management, the pre-commercial and first commercial thinning of coniferous plantations in Southern Ontario. The salvaged wood is cut into saw logs, or it is cut, peeled and pressure treated to create fence and vineyard trellising posts, poles, and wood chips.
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16.) Why use pressure treated pine?
     Properly pressure treated pine posts will last in excess of 30 years. Using pressure treated posts actually saves trees.
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17.) If you are making fence posts out of the salvaged wood; do they not have a commercial value and is this not now commercial thinning?
     No, it is not considered as a commercial thinning! What must be remembered is that we are removing not only whole rows of live trees to allow access to the plantation now and for future thinning, but we are also removing dead, diseased, bent, distorted, stunted, small and twinned trees. These are considered as part of the 1/3 of the trees removed from the remaining rows. We are not high grading, or, taking the best trees in the plantation. We are removing, for the first time, the less healthy and less dominant ones in order to release the healthy straight trees to improve the overall health of the plantation, and give these remaining ones a chance to grow and prosper and attain a commercial value down the road.
     These small diameter logs would not have a value that would normally cover the cost of their cutting and removal from the bush.
     Only as a finished, pressure treated product do they have a commercial value, but, as a small diameter log they do not. They do not have a commercial value either at the stump, or on a landing. To take these salvaged logs from this point, to a point where they can be financially viable takes more time and money.
     Once this small diameter log has been cut, it is forwarded to a landing where it can be either peeled right there, or loaded onto a truck and taken to a peeling yard at another location. Once peeled, the raw pine sticks are graded and sorted into sizes, bundled, and then left to dry down to a moisture content of 18-20%. This can take as much as a year before they are ready for treating.
     As a pine log from the woods they are too small in diameter for use as saw logs. As an untreated fence post, they would not last a year in the ground before rotting.
     The whole process from standing tree to finished treated fence post can take anywhere from 5 months to 12 months depending upon; the time of year and the amount of fine, dry, windy days. Once dried and pressure treated, and only after this pressure treating, do these pieces of pine have a commercial value as posts. Value has been added or given to them because they have been peeled, graded, sorted, dried and then pressure treated.
     Because of this, this first thinning is still classed as a "pre-commercial" thinning. It is done to give present and future access to the plantation and to cull out the poor quality trees that will hinder the release of the remaining good healthy trees. It is done to give a healthier, larger diameter, trees in the years to come which will give the logs cut from this plantation a commercial value when cut. This type of thinning produces a healthy sustainable commercial stand over time with natural regeneration.
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18.) How well are the posts pressure treated and is it safe?
     By drying our posts to a low moisture content, maximum treating penetration (all the way into the heartwood) will occur. After treating, a new process is used whereby the posts undergo an accelerated fixation in a conditioning chamber to ensure that they are environmentally friendly (no leaching of the chemicals). These posts when properly treated will then last in excess of 30 years.
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19.) What is meant by a 4" post?

     This dimension refers to the post diameter. All diameter sizes refer to the small end size. For example, a 4" post would measure a minimum of 4" and a maximum of 4.99" on the small end; a 6" would be between 6" and 6.99" on the small end.
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