Dr Yogesh Y Sumthane
Assist Professor, Forest Products and Utilization, Department of Forest Product and Utilization, CoF, BUAT, Banda
Wood has played a major role throughout human history. The earliest human used wood to make shelters, cook food, construct tools, architecture for home, wood decorative items, wood root structure’s and make weapons. There are human marks on a climbing pole that were made over 500,000 years ago. We have found wood in the Egyptian pyramids, Chinese temples and tombs, and ancient ships, attending to the use of wood by past societies. Collectively, society learned very early the great advantages of using a resource that was widely distributed, multifunctional, strong, and easy to work, aesthetic, sustainable, and renewable. Wood has been used by people for centuries as a building material; we have accepted its limitations, such as instability toward moisture and degradation due to microorganisms, termites, fire and ultraviolet radiation, in use. We must accept that wood was designed by nature to perform in a wet environment and that nature is programmed to recycle wood to carbon dioxide and water using the chemistries of biological decay and thermal, ultraviolet, and moisture degradations. By accepting these limitations, however, we also limit our expectations of performance, which, ultimately, limits our ability to accept new concepts for improved materials.
As we start the 21st century, we are concerned about issues dealing with the environment, sustainability, recycling, energy, sequestering carbon, and the depletion of our natural resources by a growing world population. In many ways, we are rediscovering wood as a material. We will not, however, be able to realize the full potential of the role that wood and wood products can play in our modern society as materials and chemical feed stock until we fully understand their chemistry and material properties. That understanding holds the keys to effective utilization. Wood will not reach its highest use potential until we fully describe it, understand the mechanisms that control its performance properties, and finally, become able to manipulate those properties to elicit the performance we seek.