Forest carbon dioxide is in fast circulation
Fossil fuel resources can only be consumed once. Heating effect of burning fossil fuels lasts almost forever in the atmosphere, as the formation of new fossil fuels is extremely slow. Wood is fundamentally different to fossil energy sources: when a tree is harvested from the forest, a new one grows to replace it. Wood is a superior alternative to fossil materials, as trees are renewable from roots to crown.
Carbon dioxide from trees circulates relatively fast between the atmosphere and wood. The cause for climate change is the carbon dioxide that has been released into the atmosphere through burning of coal, oil and gas. The carbon dioxide of fossil fuels has been out of atmospheric circulation for hundreds of millions of years. Fossil fuel utilisation is releasing this carbon into the atmosphere at a growing rate.
Forest growth allows both increasing use of wood and maintaining carbon sinks
Finland’s forests create a substantial carbon sink. Finnish forest resources have been growing strongly for a long time; this means that more carbon is annually bound by Finnish forests than is removed. Finnish forests will remain as carbon sinks even if the utilisation of forest energy and timber were to grow substantially.
In the diversifying and climate friendly use of wood it is essential that only tree parts, which are not suitable for processing, are used in the generation of energy. Wood-based products store carbon dioxide, replace products harmful to climate and can still be used to generate bio-energy at the end of their lifecycle.
Wood is a sustainable energy source
The risks and environmental impacts associated with timber harvesting are relatively modest when compared to, for example, coal mining and oil drilling. Finland does not have coal and oil resources of its own, but we’ve got plenty of forests. Furthermore, the energy utilisation of wood does not compete with land-use in food production.
Thinning and regeneration felling is performed on just a couple of percent of Finland’s overall forested area each year. Felling residue is collected for energy utilisation only at locations where it is ecologically sustainable. Some felling residue is always left uncollected.
Guidelines for good forestry practice and forest certification ensure the welfare of the forest environment. The collection of felling residues will thus not endanger the future of Finnish forests.
Ahti Fagerblom, Manager, Energy and Climate Policy,
Finnish Forest Industries Federation,
+358 9 132 6667, +358 40 820 9763