Is Mass Timber The Path To Sustainable Construction?

mass timber As people become increasingly interested in the sustainability in all things, building construction was bound to find itself under scrutiny. Steel and concrete are notorious for their large environmental footprints. But they’ve historically been the only suitable answer as the primary load-bearing material for large, and especially tall, buildings.

That may be changing. Mass timber – engineered wood members  used as structural components for buildings – is getting a lot of attention lately. “Mass timber is very exciting. It’s a long-term durable product. It’s a critical carbon storage tool,” said Mark Rudnicki, Ph.D., Professor of Practice for Forest Biomaterials at Michigan Technological University and Executive Director for the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute. “Plus, it’s cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing.” Continue reading “Is Mass Timber The Path To Sustainable Construction?”

Another Robust Year for Forestry

ForestryTHE AVERAGE price of commercial forestry on the market rose 23% over the last year, according to the latest sector statistics.

The 21st edition of the UK Forest Market Report, produced by Tilhill Forestry and John Clegg and Co, outlined a positive outlook for the ‘robust’ market in its annual analysis, and highlighted its ‘powerful attraction as an investment asset’.

That year-on-year rise in average forestry values takes it to £11,478 per stocked hectare, pushing a 21% increase in the total value of the forestry market.

Commercial forestry transactions worth £126.5m were completed in the past year, with14,235 ha of forestry traded in 2019, encompassing 81 forests, at an average cost £1.56m.

Continue reading “Another Robust Year for Forestry”

Finland fights to keep control of forests away from EU

(Photo: Greenpeace Finland)

Finland, which currently holds the EU’s presidency until the end of the year, is lobbying to keep forestry a national competency – undermining a key part of the EU’s climate efforts to reduce emissions.

The EU considers land use and forestry two of the most important sectors for the bloc’s climate policy – as they include the use of soils, trees, plants, biomass, and timber.

Bearing in mind the climate targets for 2030 and 2050, the European Union designed a regulation for land use and forestry (known as LULUCF), adopted in 2018, to ensure that the accounted total emissions in the sector do not exceed the ‘accounted sinks’ – also known as “no-debit” rule. Continue reading “Finland fights to keep control of forests away from EU”

Wood industry urges passage of forestry management bills

The wood industry said it is hoping for the passage of legislation on land and forest management, which it expects to attract investment in the forestry sector from both domestic and foreign sources.

“Those bills that have been sitting in Congress for so long (and I hope they are) passed, to encourage investors, foreign or domestic,” Charlie H. Liu, chairman of Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA), told BusinessWorld via phone.

A number of bills are pending in Congress include the proposed National Land Use Act; the proposed Forest Limits Act, which allows Congress to delimit forest land and national parks where conservation measures will be in force; and the proposed Sustainable Forest Management Act, which seeks to prescribe sustainable forest management of former mine sites, as well as to regulate the use of forest resources, including those within ancestral land. Continue reading “Wood industry urges passage of forestry management bills”

‘Deforestation is a material risk that companies can no longer ignore’

While Unilever and Nestlé have made strides towards implementing no-deforestation policies, the vast majority of companies have not. Now some of the world’s biggest institutional investors are pushing for change through the Investor Initiative for Sustainable Forests, says Julie Nash of Ceres

As the cycle of forest fires burning through the Amazon has captured the world’s attention, institutional investors have seized the opportunity to shift the focus to some of the root causes of the problem: decades of poor forestry and land-use management and poorly managed agricultural supply chains.

Earlier this month, in the run-up to Climate Week New York, an unprecedented number of investors – 230 institutional investors representing $16.2trn in assets under management – issued an urgent plea to companies to take action against deforestation. Among the investors are some of the largest investment managers and asset-owners from around the globe, representing more than 30 countries. Continue reading “‘Deforestation is a material risk that companies can no longer ignore’”

Tree-planting to offset carbon emissions: no cure-all

A few euros, a couple of mouse clicks and a tree is planted — as air travel is increasingly becoming a source of guilt, consumers and companies are looking for other ways to ease their conscience and reduce their carbon footprint.

But as more polluting industries join efforts to offset their carbon emissions, the effectiveness of the approach is open to debate, with some critics suggesting that tree-planting schemes are nothing more than a fig leaf.

Once marginal, the offset movement has even reached the arch-enemy of environmentalists: big oil.

Shell has ploughed $300 million (270 million euros) into forest plantations to reduce its carbon footprint by 2-3 percent, Italy’s ENI has set an objective of zero net emissions via its forestry investments, and France’s Total plans to set up a special “business unit” next year to spend $100 million annually on compensation efforts.

Beyond the grand statements, carbon offset schemes basically follow the same, simple mechanism. Continue reading “Tree-planting to offset carbon emissions: no cure-all”

Forestry Sector Cultivates Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Plan

Image: Shutterstock

With scrutiny around corporate strategies related to deforestation intensifying, a select group of companies representing the forestry sector have published the latest in a series of industry-specific guides meant to help meaningful corporate action take root.

The Forest Sector Roadmap, launched in mid-July during a gathering in New York, is the latest in a series of publications coordinated by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and intended to help companies map their sustainability agendas to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals are to be met by 2030, and policymakers all over the world are working to meet that deadline with the support of private-sector partners. The forestry roadmap, meant to accelerate corporate action among pulp and paper companies primarily, was the result of a year and a half of collaboration between WBCSD member companies, NGOS and other stakeholders.

Francisco Ruiz-Tagle, CEO of multinational forestry company CMPC, and one of the 11 paper and forestry companies that make up the WBCSD’s Forest Solutions Group, believes that companies like his, especially within the forest sector, can be powerful allies to policymakers in meeting the SDGs — when they choose to take action. Continue reading “Forestry Sector Cultivates Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Plan”

China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond

After sharply restricting logging in its own forests, China turned to imports, overwhelming even a country with abundant resources: Russia.

From the Altai Mountains to the Pacific Coast, logging is ravaging Russia’s vast forests, leaving behind swathes of scarred earth studded with dying stumps.

The culprit, to many Russians, is clear: China.

Since China began restricting commercial logging in its own natural forests two decades ago, it has increasingly turned to Russia, importing huge amounts of wood in 2017 to satisfy the voracious appetite of its construction companies and furniture manufacturers.

“In Siberia, people understand they need the forests to survive,” said Eugene Simonov, an environmentalist who has studied the impact of commercial logging in Russia’s Far East. “And they know their forests are now being stolen.”

Russia has been a witting collaborator, too, selling Chinese companies logging rights at low cost and, critics say, turning a blind eye to logging beyond what is legally allowed.

Chinese demand is also stripping forests elsewhere — from Peru to Papua New Guinea, Mozambique to Myanmar. Continue reading “China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond”

Forestry can deliver 20pc of our climate action targets

Irish forests are locking away as much CO2 as was produced by all the licenced cars in Dublin or all the households in Cork, Waterford and Kerry combined, according to Forest Industries Ireland (FII) chairman Brian Murphy.

And managed forests in Ireland have the potential to provide 20pc of our climate change solution, he told a forestry conference.

Forests alone have the potential to help mitigate up to 20pc of the EU’s CO2 emissions by 2050, and wooden skyscrapers or ‘plyscrapers’ are being built in Norway, with the highest being 14 storeys in Bergen.

Continue reading “Forestry can deliver 20pc of our climate action targets”

Rooting for a sustainable future: how forest resources can help tackle climate change and air pollution

Wild mushroom picking in Eastern Europe is more than a tradition. It is a social event. Every year, in late summer and early fall, thousands of people roam the woods for the biggest, most perfect specimens. They take their children along to teach them which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous, which are ripe and which should be left for another week or so, passing on generations-old teachings and care for the woods. In the evenings, families share their harvest around a plateful of tasty, butter-fried delicacies. Together, they celebrate their love for the forests, sharing the best spots they found and recalling the animals or birds they sighted along the way.

Forests are among the most valuable treasures on earth: they supply energy from timber, help with water regulation, soil protection and biodiversity conservation. Yet in traditional forest management, trees are still primarily viewed as a source of wood. All other products derived from wooded lands—such as honey, mushrooms, lichens, berries, medicinal and aromatic plants, as well as any other products extracted from forests for human use—are considered of secondary importance.

Non-timber forest resources, however, have far-reaching benefits for millions of households, both in terms of subsistence and income. These by-products go into food and everyday items like cosmetics or medicines. The protection of their environment is therefore a vital need. Continue reading “Rooting for a sustainable future: how forest resources can help tackle climate change and air pollution”