Daisugi- Japan’s Forestry Technique which Produces High-Grade Lumber without Cutting Trees

Near Kyoto in Japan, there are big cedar forests along the hills.

The Kitayama cedar is known to be highly straight and without any knots. It has been in high demand since the 15th century.

With the high demand and low space, the foresters came up with a creative way to grow more wood, but with using less land.

This is done through heavy pruning of the mother tree which encourages thin and tall saplings to shoot upwards.

This is similar to bonsai, but on a larger scale.

Why Is Daisugi an Important Forestry Technique?

The technique known as daisugi helps foresters collect wood faster and the shoots can be planted or harvested.

Similar techniques were used back in ancient Rome when they called it pollarding. And, across Europe, especially in Britain, they called it coppicing.

The end product is slender cedar that’s not just dense, but also flexible and great for wood roofs and beams.

However, daisugi cedar can be collected every 20 years. However, with the base of the tree lasting hundreds of years, there’s a lot of wood from one tree.

Even though some would say that 20 years is a long period of time, this is a speedier version in comparison to the traditional Kitayama cedar.

To keep the trees knot-free, the workers have to climb onto the long trunks every 3 to 4 years to cut down one single tree.

Daisugi’s Recent Rise in Popularity

One Twitter user, Wrath of Gnon, helped spread the interest in daisugi with his daisugi thread. He wrote that this Japanese forestry technique allows for lumber harvesting without having to cut down trees.

This user also explained that the shoots are gently pruned by hand every two years and leave only the boughs on top to grow straight.

This method has been here from the 14th century when it was common to use a straight and stylized sukiya-zukuri type of architecture; however, there was low raw material to build homes for samurais or nobles who wanted one.

So, they came up with this smart solution of how to create bonsai on trees. Daisugi is a beautiful technique, but is demanding in terms of patience and persistence.




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