I have a large dead tree (or several) in my backyard. Will one of your processors buy it from me? Will you remove my tree for free if I give you the wood?

Unfortunately, our partners do not offer free tree removals in exchange for the wood and rarely purchase logs. These are common questions, but ones with a more complicated and difficult answer than you might expect. Even in our network, the arborists and sawmills work separately to handle tree removal and milling services. Each job requires experts with very different skills. You will want to hire a certified arborist to handle your tree removal. We do have some that work directly with the Urbanwood Project. Or, if you would prefer to choose another arborist, you can still request that they work with one of our network’s mills to see the wood go to a good use. In many cases, you may be able to negotiate a lower cost with a tree removal service given that they would not need to handle any of the log removal, which is generally a labor-intensive process.

Recycling urban trees is very similar to other types of recycling. Yes, these trees definitely have value, but much like aluminum cans, paper, or other recyclables, the real value is reached when the items are collected in bulk, sorted, and processed into other products. While you might hear stories of prime trees yielding a high dollar amount from a log buyer, this is extremely rare outside of traditional forest systems. When a log buyer goes into a managed forest, there are hundreds or thousands of trees all in one place. The buyer can afford to pay a good sum per tree because all of the harvesting and transportation can be done efficiently in one place. This system results in logs of consistent quality and uniform lengths, which makes the processing much simpler. This is not the case for urban trees, and is why urban logs haven't been used more by the wood industry in the past.

When urban trees die, it can be difficult and expensive to collect single logs from many different areas. This is why most of the wood we recycle comes either from municipal tree crews or from private tree service companies. These groups help perform an intermediary step to collect all of the wood into one place. Despite this help with collection, this is still much more difficult than what traditional log buyers face. The good logs still have to be sorted out from the other types of wood waste, cut to size, and inspected for metal and defects. This is yet one more extra step that our mills must take to reclaim this wood. If mills had to pick up single (or even several) logs from individual homeowners, the price for their finished wood products would have to be much, much higher.

We hope to soon find more efficient ways to recycle every good quality tree, including those from individual homeowners, but this is still a challenge. For now, you can see that your trees are recycled by asking your tree removal company to work with our program.

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