Extraction: Extract too much, and the system will collapse!
Resource extraction is the process of withdrawing materials from the natural environment, accounting for around half of the world’s carbon emissions and 80% of biodiversity loss (UN). Today, resources are being extracted three times faster than in 1970, with the population only having doubled during that time (Global Resources Outlook). Growing by 3.2% per year, the world consumes more than 92b tonnes of materials.
Resource extraction and trading accounts for the vast majority of global economic growth, however since environmental conscious has grown since the 2000’s begun, resources have become more expensive to extract due to diminishing rates of return and environmental implications have become harder to ignore.
It is essential to decouple economic growth from material consumption and resource extraction. Without change, resource demand will more than double to 190 billion tonnes a year, greenhouse gas emissions can be predicted to rise by 40% and demand for land by 20% (Global Resources Outlook).
The role of forests
Wood is the only truly sustainable and renewable building material. By choosing to build with sustainable timber, businesses are helping to preserve and grow the world’s forests, and combat climate change.
Trees absorbs carbon dioxide while they grow, turning carbon into wood and emitting oxygen. This carbon is stored in wood until it is released either by natural causes or through combustion. For every tree harvested, many more are then planted in it’s place. Research has shown these kinds of managed forests have the ability to absorb much more carbon dioxide in the long term compared to unmanaged forests.
Together with the preservation of ancient forests, these managed forests are also able to support the biodiversity of the planet, with planting guidelines setting aside as much as 15% for ‘natural’ forest. Around the world this has lead to some incredible success stories. One of the most significant is the preservation of the gorillas in the Congo by the actions of Interholco, who provide a livelihood, and place a value on the forest, to prevent deforestation.
The EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan helps combat illegal logging and deforestation. Without proper governance and sustainable forest management in place, there will inevitably be overexploitation of resources. Maintaining balance between harvesting and regrowth is essential in all forests.
The reforms outlined in each country’s FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement commit them to a legal, enforceable management framework. Without these laws in place and wider sustainable forest management from all commodity supply chains, forests will continue to face many threats to their existence.
It is essential for the future of our planet’s health that we balance the demand for materials, food and commodities with the need to keep these incredible habitats standing. This exhibition was formulated to convey the message that timber harvesting from sustainable forest management sources, will actually keep the forests standing – providing governance and legal reforms are in place.