The Importance of Using Wood Wisely in the UK

Guest Blog by Karl Morris:

Many of us are concerned about deforestation, the state of our forests and the effect that humans are having on the planet long term. Our rainforests and woodlands are precious resources with important ecosystems that need constant care and protection.

Here at Use Wood Wisely we are passionate about wood being used in the right direction. It’s true that wood is a renewable resource but only if used wisely. Sustainably managing our forests and woodland areas is crucial, in order to keep CO2 locked up for years, giving trees time to regrow and reabsorb the carbon from the atmosphere.

Using wood in furniture and construction is a great use of wood, it holds carbon and keeps it locked up for 60/70 years. The major concern is that there is only so much wood in the UK, 10 million tonnes to be exact and there are only so many places that wood can go.

Lots of people say they are committed to the hierarchy of wood – you can read about it in more detail on our website – but in a nutshell it’s a process which acknowledges that wood must be used, reused and recycled several times; retaining for many decades the carbon dioxide absorbed during the growing cycle.

If we’re using wood wisely – then we are adhering to this hierarchy and helping to maintain and support sustainable forest management. An industry such as the wood panel industry has even managed to make use of so called ‘waste wood’ in the form of chipboard.

However we are not all using wood wisely, we are lacking support from the government that we require to ensure that our wood is going to the right places, as well as being sustainably managed. Current government policies are subsidising energy giants to switch their coal boilers into biomass ones so that they may burn wood in order to create electricity.

Plenty of people argue that burning wood is cleaner than burning coal as the process is carbon neutral. Unfortunately this isn’t the case – carbon neutrality takes 60, 70, 80 years to happen as trees take their time to regrow. If we are burning these trees and then releasing the carbon back out into the atmosphere straight away, it will take an incredibly long time for new trees to then reabsorb it.

You don’t need trees to reabsorb the carbon if it’s locked up in the timber framework of a house or in a table and chairs. Surely this is a wiser use of wood? A use that is beneficial to our environment and helpful to our economy, worthy of support not competition.

Without using wood wisely, not only are our UK forests being chopped down at an alarming rate but we are having to import wood from rainforests abroad in order to feed our hungry biomass boilers. 

Of course naturally these subsidies are pushing up the price of wood in the UK. Energy companies are able to afford a lot more when it comes to buying their timber, rich from subsidies created by us the tax payer, they are making the market unfairly competitive. It doesn’t seem right when the timber industry has a green and environmentally friendly purpose for wood – whereas burning trees for electricity is putting a huge strain on our forest, rainforests, ecosystems and woodland areas.

If you believe strongly about using wood wisely – look out for the FSC label when purchasing or using wood – you can read more about the FSC certification here.

You can also pledge your support and help us to get these biomass subsidies lifted – click here

 

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