The Sawfish has been around for a couple years now, but we took notice after spotting it at Greenbuild two weeks ago. The timber provided by this robotic logger received accolades as one of Building Green’s Top 10 Green Building Products, which were announced during the conference. The Sawfish is a remotely operated lumberjack vehicle, developed to harvest timber from underwater standing trees. Triton Logging Inc. estimates that there is over 5 billion linear board feet of usable timber submerged in the forests of British Columbia’s lakes and reservoirs – and that’s less than 5% of the potentially viable timber worldwide!
The technique utilized by the Sawfish has been carefully assessed by the Rainforest Alliance and has been certified by the Smart Woods Rediscovered program. Engineered to tread (or swim) lightly, it measures a mere 6′x6′x12′, and weighs in at 7700lbs. Floats are tethered to the trees so that once felled, no sediment is disturbed. The Sawfish is equipped with a 55″ electric chainsaw, 8 on board video cameras, and uses biodegradable vegetable oil for its hydraulic system!
Of course, the lumber provided by these trees (which are technically dead) is by no means what you’d pick up at Home Depot for a little weekend project. While the cost of cutting submerged trees runs about the same as cutting live ones on dry land, the timber that is manufactured sells for about three times as much! Because it is technically old-growth timber, it is denser and more stable than your typical lumber. Additionally, it has the characteristics of vintage wood, and as they say, “each dead tree harvested by Sawfish can be another live tree saved.”