While wood is a renewable and versatile resource which, when used sensibly, is proven to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, the theory of reforestation restoring the CO2 balance instantaneously is a fallacy, asserts Norbord, a leading manufacturer of engineered wood-based panels. Replanting trees only become effective when the carbon sequestration benefits are equal to those gained from more mature trees; something which takes several decades to achieve.
In addition to the time it takes for saplings to grow and absorb the same amount of CO2 as those trees burned for energy production, the planet is also losing 25 million acres of forest land to deforestation every year. Closer to home, the World Wildlife Fund estimates that £712 million is spent in the UK alone on illegal wood from threatened rainforests every year.
As the first panel producer to use FSC-certified timber, Norbord believes that the way it and similar companies use wood is both sustainable and a way of keeping carbon locked up for longer, especially if the life of timber products can be extended.
Norbord argues that all wood must be used sensibly and both a cascade of wood use and the carbon cycle must be respected. At the end of its first life, wood or a wood-based product should always be re-used or re-cycled to gain the greatest benefits from a longer period of carbon storage; only then can it be burnt as a carbon-neutral source of energy.
Burning wood of any sort should be absolutely the last usage – if the only alternative option is landfill – because burning releases locked up CO2 earlier than is necessary and is an incredibly wasteful use of a precious resource.