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Treecycling at RBG

September 8, 2021

By Chris McAnally, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, Royal Botanical Gardens.

Sometimes at RBG we have to cut down trees. While we try to avoid it, it is usually done if the tree is becoming a safety hazard because of storm damage or disease. Even though the trees are at the end of their life, we’ve come up with some great ways to extend their legacy which we call “Treecycling”.

Treecycling is a term we’ve started using at RBG to refer to any initiatives which re-uses the wood left over from tree maintenance or removal. It is a creative approach to turn wood waste into something meaningful and of value to RBG and our visitors. Here are a few examples of our Treecycling Initiatives:

Turned Bowls

Our first treecycling initiative was the creation of wooden bowls from sections of tree trunks. Local artisan, Ken Black, partnered with us and turned them into beautiful bowls. These bowls have been up for sale in RBG’s Shop at The Gardens several times, but they often fly off the shelves.

Check out this interview on the RBG Blog to hear from Ken Black, and Jon Peter, RBG’s Curator and Manager of Plant Records about how these pieces are made. 

  • Ken Black rough turning bowls. Images by Jon Peter.
  • Small wood turned bowl
  • Finished bowls ready for purchase in the gift shop. Image by Jon Peter.

Construction Lumber

Some of our less exotic woods make for great building materials. That was the case with a Scot’s pine at RBG Centre which was cut down due to disease. Using some milling equipment we were able to turn this tree into lumber. After we give it some time to dry, this pine wood will be part of future RBG build projects.

collage of construction lumber


The new benches in the children’s playground were once trees on RBG property as well. Due to declining tree health we had to remove the tree but were able to save sections of its trunk. We used the saved sections from this tree to make these great new benches located at the same area of RBG where it grew.

Our Treecycling efforts are primarily focused on trees in our garden areas. When it comes to trees in our nature sanctuaries, they are left in place to support natural processes. These are just a few examples of what we’ve completed so far, but we’ll keep “branching” out as we can.

Sustainability at RBG

At RBG our mission is to connect people, plants and place for the purpose of nurturing and preserving healthy growing life on our planet. Our mission, mandate and future are deeply connected to sustainability – working to meet our needs today in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability of future generations to meet theirs.