Are we missing the forest for the wood?

Professor Mathew Leitch isn’t a big fan of suits. In fact, whenever required to wear a tie, the only one he’ll wear is his own creation: a tie made out of wood. He’s convinced anything can be made out of wood.

Known as “The Wood Guy” to his students at Lakehead University, Leitch admits to being obsessed with wood.

And he thinks you should be too. Because, he says, wood is the only renewable resource on the planet.

For many, this assertion might conjure up visions of clear-cutting and bare forests, and you wonder how can that be? It’s really quite simple: trees grow. Leitch says that, in Canada, 100 percent of all trees are replenished within a year. This is why forestry has always been, and continues to be, one of the largest industries in the nation. Canada is the leader in forestry on the international scale and host to the most sustainable forests in the world.

Leitch’s passion for wood led him to becoming a wood scientist. He studies wood properties, with a special focus on wood quality. By studying the mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of trees, he is able to maximize their use.

His research will directly propel this industry forward. His method can “increase the value of every tree” by 25 to 30 percent, says Leitch. Imagine what that number could do for Canada’s forest products industry – already a $57 billion a year industry!

Leitch is convinced this industry will only continue to grow. Forestry is the backbone of our country, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadians. It supports our rural communities, and is also directly linked to our major cities – a working collaboration that produces wood and wood products for the world.

Always on the lookout for new applications, Leitch has already got his next project lined up: constructing a blazer out of wood. For those unfortunate times he’s expected to wear a suit.

Mathew Leitch

Mathew Leitch

Lakehead University

Associate Professor

Environment & SustainabilityJobs & the EconomyNatural Resources

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