You probably don’t need me to tell you that wood is the single most important natural resource (besides food and water) available to human beings. If you have done a walkthrough of your home, it has not escaped your attention how much you rely on wood and wood products (e.g., paper, pulp, plywood, pressboard) in your daily life. The thorough understanding and management of this natural resource has for centuries been vital to the human community.

The wood category divided into the soft woods (generally, the conifers), and the hard woods. There are hundreds of trees whose wood is used for a huge variety of purposes, depending on their specific properties. In the categories listed above, there is some kind of wood or wood product in most of them. The favored trees have become those that are relatively fast growing and can be cultivated (like pine, fir, oak, basswood, and maple) or coppiced (like willow, ash, and redwood). The slow-growing trees that produce extremely hard, dense wood can generally not be effectively cultivated (with some exceptions), and the value of their wood has caused many species of trees to become endangered through over exploitation. Examples include Brazilian rosewood, true mahogany, and ebony.

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