As a card-carrying, registered tree hugger, I have long touted the benefits of trees such as carbon storage, energy savings and improved mental health. And beyond the familiar tree-related blessings such as maple syrup, lumber and firewood, I’ve written about some obscure things like birch-based candy that fights tooth decay, and health-promoting chaga tea derived from a birch fungus. Then there’s basswood bark for fiber, elm bark for baskets, and pine bark for lunch. That stuff is all pretty straightforward.
More highly processed wood products, though, are a mystery to me. Even a fairly mundane example like how a pile of dirty logs becomes a decidedly coveted treasure – I’m speaking of toilet paper, of course – seems like rocket science. But recent developments are truly mind-blowing. Without a doubt, tree-derived stuff has risen to a whole new level: the Japanese will soon rocket a wooden satellite into space.