A new report from Forest2Market says industrial demand for wood products leads to forest growth.
Forest-dependent industries, including lumber for construction and furniture, pulp for paper and packaging and wood pellets for energy, have been active in southern US forests for decades. Far from depleting these resources, industries have invested in their growth and productivity, resulting in a 112% increase in total annual timberland growth over about 60 years.
Whilst the number of timberland acres have grown just slightly (3%) since 1953, total inventory (the amount of wood product available for harvesting) has more than doubled.
That’s a very good thing, because more wood means more storage of carbon. Forests are literally sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and helping to limit climate change. So active, responsible wood industries are helping to avoid climate change.
This huge increase in productivity and carbon storage is a direct, long-term response to the industry demand. The vast majority of wood supplied is for buildings and furniture, meaning it locks away the carbon for the lifetime of that building or item. The rest can be left in the forest to rot (which releases carbon into the atmosphere) or can be incinerated as part of normal forest management to avoid infestations, disease and wildfires. Another option is to use it for biomass energy, which returns extra revenue to the landowner. This incentivises responsible forestry and guards against deforestation.
In short, this report from the experts in forest industries shows an important lesson: forests benefit from active, responsible industries. Biomass is part of that system and is being done at scale in a way that benefits forest growth now and in the long term.
You can see the Forest2Market report here.