Extraction: Climate Conversations

Climate Conversations: Resource Extraction

ARTICLE · By Lucy Bedry TTF FLEGT Communications Executive · 02 March 2021

By choosing to build with sustainable timber, businesses are helping to preserve and grow the world’s forests, and combat climate change.

Current society and economies are largely dependant on commodities, resource extraction and the trading of consumer goods. This dependence links humans directly to the natural world – from where primary materials are extracted, to which they ultimately return as waste and emissions. 

Natural resource extraction accounts for around 20% of world trade (World Trade Organisation). Since the 2000’s and increased environmental consciousness, 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. 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 92 billion tonnes of materials. Following a similar trajectory, by 2060 global material use could double to 190 billion tonnes, with an encompassing rise in greenhouse gas emissions by 43%.

EXTRACT TOO MUCH, AND THE SYSTEM WILL COLLAPSE!

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(VPA)  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.

Extraction, Kashdan Brown Architects © Chris Jackson / Building Centre

Julia and Julian Kashdan Browns design conversation for the TTF Conversations about Climate Change Exhibition – a Sapele column with holes drilled through its heart, represents the demands on the natural resource of timber by countries around the world.

The result is a column with its structural integrity in a critical state, barely able to support itself, portraying the necessary to balance our exploitation of natural resources and integrate sustainable methods in all practices. Maintaining balance between harvesting and regrowth is essential in all forests and for timber extraction / trade.

The reforms outlined in each country’s FLEGT VPA means that they commit themselves to a legal and enforceable management framework. Without these laws in place – and wider sustainable forest management of all commodity supply chains, forests will continue to face many threats to their existence.

Explore the virtual exhibition and discover more about the six winning installations made from tropical hardwoods and engage with our #ClimateConversations on social media.

The extraction column has been created from Sapele timber, supplied by TTF member James Lathams.

James Latham: It is considered that with best practices observed, timber and wood products are the ultimate sustainable and recyclable materials, requiring low energy consumption to process and are thermally efficient in use. More information on James Latham’s environmental standards here.

Timber for the Conversations about Climate Change exhibition has been sourced through Timber Trade Federation members, in line with the TTFs Responsible Purchasing Policy – a risk management for the continuous improvement of TTF Members’ awareness of obligations under the EU / UK Timber Regulation (EUTR/ UKTR), the Constructions Product Regulation (CPR) and TTF Code of Conducts.