Climate Change

Climate Change

Increasing the use of sustainable timber is globally recognised as important for lowering carbon emissions from construction by scientists. This is because timber absorbs and stores carbon dioxide – up to one tonne per cubic metre.

 

The timber industry is committed to promoting sustainable construction practices which will help mitigate the effects of climate change. Find more below about the relationship between sustainable timber and climate change.

Building a sustainable future

Human activity has tipped the atmospheric balance and been the dominant cause of global warming since the mid-20th century. The need for action is urgent, and we must balance our economic activity with the need to preserve our natural world.

 

Around 39 billion tonnes of CO2 enters the atmosphere every year from human activity. Carbon sinks including oceans, flora and fauna including forests and minerals absorb 21 billion tonnes, which leaves 18 billion tonnes ‘free’ in the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming.

 

However, we can solve the climate crisis. Key to limiting climate change is reducing our dependency on fossil-fuels and finite resources, and moving to more renewable, biological-based resources, including timber and wood products.

 

The bio-economy envisions greater use of renewable, natural materials including timber in place of finite, energy-intensive materials. Every day innovators and scientists are finding new ways to make use of the miracle material which is wood.

Preserving our forests through trade

It is estimated that between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 1.3 million square kilometers of forests (according to the World Bank), with forests covering around 30% of the world’s land area. The World Resource Institute estimates that if tropical deforestation was a country, it would rank third in CO2 equivalent emissions, behind China and the US.

 

The single biggest cause of deforestation worldwide is agriculture, which is the number one driver of deforestation of the world’s tropical forests is beef, followed by soybean production, according to the World Wildlife Federation. This harms more than one billion people, who are dependent on forests for their livelihoods, as well as millions of species of animals.

 

Deforestation must be stopped. For the timber industry, this means ensuring that illegal timber does not enter the market through responsible sourcing, and helping countries around the world improve their forestry practices. The Timber Trade Federation leads in responsible sourcing, with our members subject to mandatory auditing.

 

When sustainable timber is supported, forests grow rather than shrink. Europe’s forests are a growing resource, which despite producing around 470 million cubic meters of round wood every year and providing millions of people with meaningful employment, they now cover a 9% greater area than they did 25 years ago.

 

The Timber Trade Federation works globally to reduce deforestation and encourage more sustainable forestry practices, including encouraging the adoption of mandatory reporting guidelines and due diligence, mandatory sustainable sourcing requirements across the EU, and working to enhance transparency and traceability.

Fighting climate change by growing trees

Forests cover around 4 billion hectares, or 30 percent of Earth’s land surface, and currently absorb 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Reforestation, which is planting trees in areas which were historically covered, is one of the most potent climate mitigation strategies.

 

Trees are the only currently viable method of carbon capture and storage. Studies have shown that, even when excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, there is 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. This forest cover would help restore ecosystems, while absorbing and storing 205 gigatonnes of carbon.

 

Reforestation of this scale has the potential to remove up to two-thirds of all emissions from human activities. In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) estimate that 1.5 billion trees  need to be planted in order for the net zero emissions by 2050 to be reached. Funding is available for rural landowners and a further two-year £10 million fund to plant 130,000 urban trees.