Professor Bruce Lippke, University of Washington: Increasing the use of wood could slow climate change

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 "The more forests grow and the more commonly wood products and carbon-dioxide-bound construction materials are used, the less carbon dioxide emissions are created,” said Professor Bruce Lippke of the University of Washington in his lecture at the University of Helsinki’s international seminar Climate Change and the Environmental Performance of Wood on 18 October 2007.

Lippke says growing forests are important in counteracting the greenhouse effect. Trees bind carbon dioxide and only release it when they decay. Forests only have a limited capacity to bind carbon dioxide, however. Once the growth diminishes, so does the uptake of carbon dioxide.

Instead, products manufactured from wood, such as building materials, are significant carbon stores. Wood products can also substitute other, non-renewable materials, whose production creates substantial carbon emissions.

“Wood buildings and furniture store carbon for centuries. Even paper products can bind carbon for many years," says Aila Janatuinen, Manager from the Finnish Forest Industries Federation. "Using more wood is the easiest way to reduce environmental impact of building. Each and every one of us can slow down climate change through our own actions and choices – selecting wood is a positive environmental act.”

Professor Lippke reckons that there should be more debate about how the use of wood affects climate change. "After all, wood products bind considerable amounts of carbon dioxide and their use will only increase along with the building boom. Promoting the use of wood to combat climate change is justified.”

The environmental value of the carbon dioxide bound in products is difficult to measure in money terms. Lippke can see that increasing the use of wood has incontrovertible advantages in mitigating climate change, as long as the ecological and social values of forests are considered in harvesting.

 Further information:

 Aila Janatuinen, Manager, Wood Products Industry Issues, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 (0)9 132 6670, +358 (0)40 539 6670

 Anders Portin, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Development and Resources, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 (0)9 132 6610, +358 (0)40 586 6179