Vic Ash or Victorian Ash is not a species. It is the trade name for a mixture of two similar species; Mountain Ash and Alpine Ash from Victoria.
Sustainability and the Environment
Sourced from renewable plantation grown eucalypts, Victorian Ash is a beautiful and naturally renewable resource. Its use for timber products and value added process is energy efficient and greenhouse positive.
Light pink to blonde with a range of characteristics. A range of different finishes can be used to bring out the unique appeal of Victorian Ash.
Victorian Ash is sought after for appearance grade applications such as flooring, studs, bearers, joists, trusses, furniture, staircases, mouldings, window frames and doors.
It ranges in colour from a highly attractive pale blonde through to nutty brown tones. Natural features, such as gum vein, add decorative appeal to this species, telling the tale of the tree’s previous life in the natural elements.
With a grain that is straight, open and even with a uniform texture, Victorian Ash is easy to work, with a good propensity for steam bending and laminating.
Colour and Stability
The naturally light colour of Victorian Ash responds beautifully to stains and lacquers allowing versatility in colour and design. It also blends attractively with other timbers and furnishings.
Unlike other hardwoods, Victorian Ash is quarter sawn thereby minimising the effect of fluctuations in atmospheric conditions. This method of sawing enhances its natural stability ensuring trouble free Performance in a wide range of applications.
WESTERN RED CEDAR
Thuja Plicata, commonly called Western or Pacific Red Cedar, Giant or Western Arborvitae, Giant Cedar, or Shinglewood, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae native to western North America. Despite its common names, it does not belong with the true cedars within the genus Cedrus.
Grown in North America, Western Red Cedar is renowned for its high impermeability to liquids and its natural phenol preservatives, which make it ideally suited for exterior use and interior use where humidity is high.
Western Red Cedars’ slow growth, dense fibre and natural oily extractives are responsible for its decay resistance and its rich colouring, which ranges from a light milky straw color in the sapwood to a vanilla-chocolate in the heartwood. It is a stable wood that seasons easily and quickly, with a very low shrinkage factor.
Heartwood very pale brown to very dark brown. Sapwood yellowish white. Texture fine but uneven. Grain straight. Growth rings prominent.
Easy to work but the sanding dust can be very irritating to the breathing passages, so a well-ventilated workshop is essential. It is rather brittle, so care is needed in working end grain.
Since it is very soft there is a risk when dressing it that the cutters may compress the softer earlywood, which will later recover to produce a ridged surface. Glues well and is a good base for coatings.
The damp wood is corrosive to iron, resulting in a black discolouration of the surrounding wood, so hot-dipped galvanised nails are commonly used in areas likely to experience any dampness.
A yellowish colouring readily leaches from the wood, so white-painted woodwork at a lower level can be stained if storm rains penetrate, say, to the unprotected rear surface of cladding. Not resinous.
STUDY: CEDAR IS MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CHOICE
Third-Party Study Proves Western Red Cedar is Most Environmentally Friendly Choice for Siding and Decking
Overview of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and why it is important
Consumers of building materials, whether professional architects, engineers and specifiers, or home owners, are increasingly concerned about their environmental “footprint.” They are particular about products they choose and factor environmental considerations into the decision-making process.
Unfortunately, getting the “whole picture” about a product’s environmental impact can be challenging. Most manufacturers only promote a selective criterion of attributes. Sure, a product may be biodegradable or contain recycled content. However, this does not address other key considerations like energy consumed in manufacture, emissions and impact on global warming. Accessing and comparing like information about alternative products is another challenge.
A Life Cycle Assessment or LCA (also known as life cycle analysis, ecobalance, and cradle-to-grave analysis) quantifies environmental impacts of materials in a side-by-side comparison.
LCA measures cradle-to-grave environmental impact through complex analysis of a range of measurables such as resource, water and energy use, emissions, transportation, and waste created. Extraction, manufacture, transportation, consumption or use, and end-of-life disposal practices are examined to create a scorecard against which objective comparisons can be made. Testing is done on a third-party basis, providing consumers reliable data.
Overview of this study
Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (WRCLA) members determined commissioning a third-party LCA of siding and decking products was the only credible way to provide consumers with reliable environmental performance information. To place the study results in sharper perspective, a parallel study of alternative products including brick and fiber cement siding as well as composite decking products was also commissioned.
Forintek, Canada’s leading forest products research organization, conducted the study in accordance with international standards in the ISO 14040/44 series, which requires that all products be treated equally and be of similar quality. Study results were presented for peer review to independent third-party organizations to ensure ISO standards compliance.
For Western Red Cedar products, the study was based on data obtained from a representative cross section of cedar mills in British Columbia and Washington state in 2007. Secondary publicly available data were used to develop life cycle inventories (LCIs) for clay brick, fiber cement and vinyl siding. Cradle-to-grave LCIs for wood-plastic composite decking made with either virgin or reprocessed plastic were also developed using secondary data sources as well as information collected from experts in the petrochemical and wood-plastic composite fields.
In order to evaluate the environmental impacts of the life-cycle stages of product alternatives, the life cycle was modeled as four distinct life-cycle stages: resource extraction and manufacturing, transportation to customer, installation and use, and end-of-life disposition. This approach helps identify where environmental contributions occur within the life cycle of each product system.
Summary of decking and siding findings
The following statements summarize the LCA results of the study for decking and siding products, giving consumers a reliable basis for comparison. Environmental impact measures applied consistently to each product were: total primary energy on a cumulative demand basis, global warming potential, acidification potential, aquatic eutrophication potential, ozone depletion, smog formation potential, and human particulate (respiratory) effects.
- Western Red Cedar decking substantially outperformed composite decking in each of the seven criteria tested and was by far the product with the least environmental impact when compared with both virgin and recycled wood-plastic composite decking products.
- Even after subjecting the cedar decking results to a “worst case” scenario in which Western Red Cedar required the replacement of 20% of boards in normal service and periodic application of coatings, the environmental impact results remained strongly favorable to Western Red Cedar over a “best case” scenario for composite decking.
- Western Red Cedar siding had the best overall performance when compared to vinyl, fiber-cement and brick; it received top marks in five of seven impact criteria, including “global warming potential.”
- Total life energy of Western Red Cedar siding can be further improved by altering end-of-life disposal practices away from the assumed practice of 100% landfill, to a mix of reuse, energy recovery and landfilling. This practice, already reality in many communities, results in cedar siding becoming a net “carbon sink;” other products tested remained green house gas contributors.
- Cedar siding impact on smog and eutrophication – the criteria in which it was not the leader – can be traced directly to the use of paint, not the natural characteristics of cedar. Use of high quality paints and stains (some of which carry length performance warranties) or the use of the new water borne coatings would have a very positive impact on results.
About Western Red Cedar Lumber Association:
Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (WRCLA) is a Vancouver, B.C. based non-profit association known as “the voice of the cedar industry.” Founded in 1954, the association operates architect advisory and technical service programs throughout the U.S. and Canada. It seeks to inspire, inform and instruct architects and consumers about Western Red Cedar, its uses and benefits.
Western Red Cedar is one of nature’s truly remarkable building materials. Not only does it have distinctive beauty, natural durability and centuries of proven performance, Western Red Cedar is the ultimate green product. It produces fewer greenhouse gases, generates less water and air pollution, requires less energy to produce than alternatives and comes from a renewable and sustainable resource. Equally important, Western Red Cedar is carbon neutral.
For more information please visit, www.wrcla.org.
The following information has been sourced from the Rainforest Information Centre Goodwood Guide. www.rainforestinfo.org.au
Araucaria Cunninghamii is a species of Araucaria known as Hoop Pine. Other less commonly used names include Dorrigo Pine, Colonial Pine, Arakaria and Queensland Pine. The scientific name honours the botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham, who collected the first specimens in the 1820s. Hoop refers to the tendency of the bark to remain as hoops on the forest floor after the timber has decayed. Hoop Pine is a rainforest timber, native to northern NSW, Queensland and the mountain regions of PNG. It is the only native tropical timber grown in substantial quantities in plantations within Australia. (Plantations have been established since the early 1920's, when attempts to source Hoop from naturally regenerated forests failed.) It is the major rainforest species used in plantations in Queensland. From an ethical, sustainable point of view, Hoop Pine is streets ahead of most of its plantation-grown exotic softwood counterparts.
Hoop Pine and the Environment
From an ecological point of view, growing Hoop Pines in plantations is preferable to growing Radiata Pine.
Admittedly, Hoop Pines are, like Radiata, grown in monocultures and at maturity are clearcut. But they have the advantage over exotic timbers in that they at least belong to the land of our region. Hoop pine is native to north-east NSW and southern Queensland, as well as mountainous areas of Papua New Guinea; Radiata comes from a relatively limited area on the west coast of North America, but is planted widely in the world's southern temperate zone (especially South Africa, Chile, New Zealand and Australia).
In Hoop plantations, an understorey can develop which, at least for a few decades under present cutting regimes, provides habitat for other species (of plants and animals), whereas the ground in Radiata plantations is usually covered in a layer of highly acidic pine needles and a few hardy (exotic) weeds, but is otherwise barren. Native plants and animals just cannot make a go of it in or under under these trees. (Go into a radiata plantation: more often than not, all you will hear is the wind sighing in the trees - no birdsong.)
The duration between 'crop-rotations' in a hoop plantation is also longer - about 45 years rather than 35 years, as for Radiata Pine. This gives the other understorey species a longer time-frame within which to establish their habitat before the plantation is again harvested. Hoop Pine plantations are also preferable to Radiata in that they require less fertilisers and/or herbicides.
In NSW, it would appear that demand for Hoop Pine currently outstrips supply, yet there are good supplies of the timber in northern NSW and Queensland.
Nonetheless, the existing plantation estate in Queensland could be expanded for example by converting regional pineapple farms - whose environmental track-record is appalling. (Pineapple farms are highly vulnerable to soil erosion because of archaic management techniques used, and are usually heavily contaminated by pesticides. Retrained pineapple growers would be able to have a less toxic, much safer and more sustainable livelihood!)
Likewise, in the NSW Northern Rivers region, financially beleaguered cattle farmers could transfer to Hoop production and capitalise on the increasing world prices for plantation timber whilst progressively divesting themselves of their devaluing livestock. (Regenerating rainforest in cattle-free riparian zones could also begin to stabilise and restore the region's highly degraded river systems.) With increased supply of the timber, the potential for marketing Hoop Pine both domestically and overseas is huge.
Hoop and Radiata have different site requirements, so expansion of the Hoop plantation estate can complement existing stocks of Radiata. Clearly, the agenda for future timber supplies should include plans for many more mixed-species native softwood and hardwood plantations - Hoop Pine could be one of the dominant species in these, putting it at the forefront of a resurgence of our ailing timber industry.
NB: Be wary of any product with a clear-grade Hoop Pine veneer, as it may come from what are or should be high conservation value [HCV] areas within state forests. Environment groups are campaigning to change the areas of NSW forests which have been reserved for their so-called 'high conservation value', because too many logged-over areas have been included in reserves, and too many high-value old growth forest areas have remained on State Forests' Order of Works.