Carbon & Environment

Wednesday, 15th Jun 2022

Wood is a naturally occurring part of our environment. Sustainably sourced wood is our only practical, renewable building material that also provides a wide range of benefits –from habitat to employment and from recreational activities to carbon sequestration.  

Tackling Climate Change with Wood

Choosing forest and wood products can effectively reduce the process of climate change. 

Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and they store that carbon. So efficiently, in fact, that about half the dry weight of wood is carbon. This carbon remains locked up for the life span of the wood, even when we use it for building things like homes and furniture. The carbon is only released when the wood is burned or rots. Wood stored in a landfill, under anaerobic conditions, can last for hundreds if not thousands of years. It stores that carbon the whole time. 

Using wood instead of other materials has many advantages. The production of wood products uses less energy than other building materials. It is also a naturally occurring resource than can be planted over and over again and managed for regrowth. 

We can do a life cycle analysis for wood and other building products. Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a method of measuring the environmental impacts of building products over their whole life. The aim of a life cycle analysis is to identify, quantify and assess the impact of the energy and materials used and wastes released to the environment throughout the life of a building product. You can learn more about this process at www.woodsolutions.com.au

Wood that is sustainably grown and harvested can also be used as a fuel. It is a renewable and manageable alternative to finite fossil fuels. 

Wood & the Greenhouse Effect

The term “greenhouse effect” refers to the way trapped infrared radiation, from the Earth, is warming the atmosphere. If you have walked into a real greenhouse, even on a cold sunny day, you will notice that it feels much warmer inside. This is how the term got its name. 

Solar radiation reaches the Earth through the atmosphere and warms its surface. The stored energy is then sent back into space as infrared radiation. However, as this radiation has a different wavelength to the incoming radiation, less of it can penetrate the barrier of specific atmospheric gases. We call these greenhouse gases. 

There are many greenhouse gases, but carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important. Since the start of the industrial revolution, there has been a sharp increase in greenhouse gases, namely CO2. This is caused by many things including the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use. Many scientists agree that CO2 concentrations, in the atmosphere, have increased by 30% since the middle of the 19th century.

A Sustainably Managed Resource

Australia's forest management is among the best in the world in terms of conservation reserves and codes of practice for production forests. Only 6% of Australia’s 147 million hectares of native forests is public forest potentially available for timber harvesting. Timber is only harvested from about 1% of these public native forests each year.

Knowing the Source of the Wood You Use

Australia has two forestry certification schemes. These resources enable purchasers to know exactly where the wood they are buying comes from. Paying attention to logos on the wood and wood products that you buy will assure that you are purchasing from sustainably managed forests.

Responsible Wood

Responsible Wood meets the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) and certifies extensive areas of native forests and plantations across Australia. It includes a Chain of Custody Standard which tracks forest and wood products throughout the supply chain. This provides purchasers with assurance that the forest and wood products they are buying are from forests that are managed to the AFS.

A world-class forestry standard, the AFS is endorsed by the world’s largest assessor of sustainable forest management, the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

For more information, please visit Responsible Wood

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

This certification uses internationally agreed upon FSC Principles of Responsible Forest Management. This enables FSC accredited certification bodies to issue a certificate for any forestry operation that meets their requirements. This system also includes a Chain of Custody certification.

For more information, please visit Home Page | Forest Stewardship Council (fsc.org)

Carbon Stocks In Forests

Did you know?

Australia’s 1.9 million hectares of timber plantations produce about two-thirds of the timber products consumed by Australians each year.