FAQ – How Can Using Forest Products Help The Environment.
Many people think that using forest products instead of unnatural products like plastic, steel, concrete, etc is bad for the environment because they think that it will prevent trees from being cut down.
This could not be further from the truth but it is a falacy that persists because these people don’t take the time to understand the scientific and economic systems that govern the situation.
First the Economic Systems:
- The land will be used for something.
- If corn is worth more than trees, then trees will be bulldozed and replaced with corn.
- Currently the high price of corn is causing record acreages of land to be converted from forestland to corn in the Midwest.
- Trees are a renewable resource and can be cut and grown over and over again, each time taking carbon out of the air and storing it for as long as the tree remains unburned.
Second, the Scientific Systems:
- Wood stores Carbon Dioxide and keeps it out of the air at a rate of about 1 ton of CO2 per cubic meter of wood.
- Wood products have a long lifespan and will keep the carbon out of the air for their duration.
- When we build a house, that carbon is stored in the house for as long as the house remains unburned.
- When that tree is repackaged as a book, magazine, or other paper item, it will keep the carbon out of the air for as long as the paper exists.
- When the wood products are done with their current employment they can then be recycled and the carbon will continue to be stored out of the air.
- And in the end if the wood products are burned, it is still just a carbon neutral situation since no more carbon will be released than what was originally absorbed while the tree was growing.
- There is a bonus effect to using trees instead of other products, less fuel is required to produce the needed product than if concrete, plastic, or steel are used.
- And if the wood is produced locally instead of using imported products like bamboo and South American hardwoods, then even less fuel will be used.
Here is an example:
If we use one cubic meter of wood for a house, we have removed 1 ton of CO2 from the atmosphere and the carbon stays in the wood materials.
If we use one cubic meter of wood instead of one cubic meter of concrete, steel, plastic or aluminium, which are more energy intensive materials to produce, we will have removed another ton of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Therefore in total 2 tons of CO2 are not emitted to the atmosphere if we substitute other materials and use one cubic meter of wood for construction.
By comparison, these two tons of CO2 equals the emissions from the burning of 228 gallons of gasoline.
All that from using just one cubic meter of wood, imagine how much you are helping the environment by building a whole house from natural products like locally produced wood!