June 03, 2012      

According to Fortune magazine, each year logging diminishes our tree cover ?by a swatch of forest about the size of Delaware.? Triton Logging, a small Canadian firm from British Columbia, has come up with an idea to save a bit of that ?swatch? by substituting some with submerged tress; trees drowned in lakes resulting from the building of dams. Submerged trees are Triton?s specialty.

Sawfish in action

An example was the construction of Ghana?s Akosombo hydroelectric dam in 1965, which extended the shores of nearby Lake Volta, thereby submerging some $1 to $2 billion in valuable mahogany, ebony and other hardwoods. Triton?s submersible robotic lumberjack, Sawfish, can harvest such inaccessible or otherwise dangerous to harvest underwater forests.

According to Triton the Sawfish system was designed specifically for deep water reservoirs and has successfully been deployed for contract remediation projects and harvest operations in extreme conditions in northern Canada, Southeast Asia and the United States.

Sawfish2

?The Sawfish is a patented remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system based on proven components used in other subsea industries such as oil and gas, scientific surveying and marine construction.

The Sawfish is operated by a pilot in a control room on a barge. Video and sonar guide the pilot on six computer monitors, with power, communications and compressed air delivered to the Sawfish through an industrial-strength tether.?

“There’s a huge potential for growth,” says Russell Taylor, a market analyst and president of the consulting firm International Wood Markets Group Inc. “We’ve seen robust demand in export markets in Korea, India and China, which is the largest furniture exporter in the world.? Worldwide, recent estimates put the submerged tree population at 300 million with a market value of over $50 billion.

“By reclaiming this resource,? says Peter Keyes, Triton’s chief executive officer, ?we’re providing a solution to the question of how the logging industry can sustainably harvest at a time of shrinking supplies. We’re taking what is essentially a lost tree and bringing it back into a productive state.”