The Bug That’s Eating the Woods – National Geographic

Posted: March 18, 2019

Source: National Geographic

Since we started Sustainable Lumber Co. we’ve been blessed to work with some of the best professionals and scientists in the world. World-renowned Professor Diana Six with the University of Montana has dedicated her life to researching the Mountain Pine Beetle and its damage. This tiny little beetle has killed millions of acres of Pine trees across North America. It’s pretty sad to travel across the West and see entire forests killed as a result of this mountain pine beetle epidemic. Our challenge here at Sustainable Lumber Company was to make something beautiful from the destruction of our native forest lands. As a result, our Beetle Killed Pine flooring and paneling lines have been architects’ and designers’ “go-to” products for years. We’ve even been privileged enough to be mentioned in National Geographic:

“In Missoula, Montana, Ryan Palma runs Sustainable Lumber Company, which sells high-end, handcrafted flooring, doors, and paneling made from blue-stained ponderosa pines, many 100 to 400 years old. He harvests only trees that have been dead for at least two years so that all the beetles are gone, and he dries the wood slowly in a large kiln that’s fueled by scrap beetle kill. The stain “kicks the wood into a lower grade,” says Palma, “so sawmills don’t want it.” But a luxury market is growing, mostly out of state. Musician Jack Johnson has a beetle-kill guitar; Al Gore owns a blue-stained ukulele.”

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Despite being smaller than a grain of rice, mountain pine beetles are causing big problems for pine forests across North America. Bark beetle colonies feed and reproduce on the inner bark of ponderosa and limber pines, wreaking deadly havoc on the tree’s ability to circulate nutrients and absorb water. Due to changes in climate and other factors, the recent outbreak of these destructive insects has reached proportions never before seen in recorded history. Alarming estimates from the U.S. Forest Service state that 100,000 beetle-infested trees fall daily across the United States.

To combat this mountain pine beetle epidemic, Professor Diana Six has made it her mission to crack the genetic code of the pine tree. She hopes that studying the relationship between the mountain pine beetle and the trees they kill will provide us with valuable insight into the future of our forests. In this short film made at the International Wildlife Film Festival Filmmaker Labs, Professor Six walks among the trees and shares her thoughts on why humans can do more to counteract the effects of climate change.

A film by Chris O’Flaherty (Vimeo), Todd Amacker (Instagram), Shireen RahimiOlivia Schmidt(Instagram), and Tim Treuer (Instagram). Music by New West Studios and art by Eric Linton. Special thanks to the University of MontanaWWFCanon USA, and Day’s Edge Productions. Generously funded by WWF and Tangled Bank Studios.

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the world and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic’s belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. To submit a film for consideration, please email [email protected]. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

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