Forest and wood are protectors of the climate

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Within the framework of photosynthesis trees extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus reduce the CO2 content.

wald-klimaschützerIn order to produce one ton of wood trees extract from the atmosphere around 1.9 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) detrimental to the climate and lock up 500 kg carbon in the wood. Thus our woods and forests perform a critical and crucial contribution to the protection of the climate. The proper utilization and development of our woods and forests together with a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions form an important measure in the fight against the greenhouse effect.

Woods and forests give us air to breathe and raw materials for our life. Without forests and woods there would be no life possible on Earth for every human and every animal requires oxygen in order to be able to breathe. A single say 100 year old beech tree produces every year about 4,600 kilograms of oxygen; enough for one adult to breathe for 13 years..

For trees oxygen is sort of a by-product in the production of timber and foliage. By means of photosynthesis the tree absorbs carbon-dioxide and together with water and the energy from the sun turns this into sugar molecules, required for the production of wood. The oxygen left over during this process the tree exhales into the atmosphere while it locks carbon up in its biomass.

Different to most plants trees do not just grow upwards but also outwards as far as the trunk is concerned. Responsible for the growth of the girth of the tree trunk is the so-called cambium, a material that created the cells of the wood. During winter it takes a little break and this can be seen by the growth rings of the tree.

Carbon-dioxide storage with triple effect

Alone in the forests and woodlands of Germany are currently around 2.6 billion tons of carbon fixed in the wood of the trees. This is equal to a sequestration of 9.5 billion tons of carbon-dioxide.

Woodlands and forest play an important role in combating the effects of the greenhouse effect and climate change and in relation to that directly threefold. First they remove carbon-dioxide out of the atmosphere and stores it in the wood. This storage is extended, secondly, when the wood is used in new buildings, renovations of old buildings and for the production of furniture where the carbon stored in the timber is then locked in for as long as the timber remains timber and is neither burned or disposed off in the waste stream.

A low energy house built to a great extent from wood, for example, relieves the atmosphere of around 80 tons of carbon-dioxide.

And thirdly does wood, when used in building, replace other energy intensive materials such as steel and concrete which are produced on the basis of finite raw materials.

This means that – and this is the case in Germany and other countries – if our woods and forests are managed in a sustainable manner, that is to say that never more timber is being harvest than regrowth available, the resource wood never going to be exhausted and permanently renewable. The ratio between harvest and regrowth is always regarded to be at least a 1:3 that is to say one felled tree is replaced by at least three new ones, either already growing as natural regeneration or being planted. In fact, the ideal scenario is to plant, in addition to the natural regeneration existing.

Sustainably managed woods and forests make an enormous contribution towards combating the greenhouse effect and climate change through their ability of reducing the carbon-dioxide content of the atmosphere and they are thus protectors of the climate.

We need to manage our woods and forests properly so that not only do they do the job as they do now but to increase the CO2 sequestration by means of trees. The more trees the greater this absorption and at the same time we get wood as raw material.

© 2013