chapter  1
8 Pages

- Wood and Society

Forests, and the wood they produce, have played an important role in human activity since before recorded history. Indeed, one of the ‹rst major innovations was utilizing ‹re, fueled by wood, for cooking and heating. It is very likely that early hominids used wood ‹res for cooking, as long as 1.5 million years ago (Clark and Harris 1985). Clear evidence of this use of wood exists from sites 400,000 years old (Sauer 1962). Since this ancient beginning, the uses of wood, and the value of the forest, have expanded dramatically, as the populations of humans and their economies grew. Wood was used in myriad products, such as agricultural implements and tools, shelters and houses, bridges, road surfaces, ships and boats, arrows and bows, spears, shoes, wheelbarrows, wagons, ladders, and thousands of others. Other important products that forests provided were food, in the form of berries, nuts, fruits, and wild animals, and of course, fuel. Wood was the most important material in early human economies, and though other materials have grown in importance, wood used for solid products, ‹ber, composites, and chemicals is still the largest single type of raw material input by weight-with the one exception of crushed stone, sand, and gravel-into today’s economy (Haynes 2003).