Forest Products: The Only Major Building Material that Sequesters Carbon

Michelle Heath
Forest Products: The Only Major Building Material that Sequesters Carbon

Consumption of forest products continues to grow. This past decade, China has become the world’s largest wood producing and consuming country, recently overtaking the United Sates in sawnwood production.

Major Forest Products

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, over the past three decades, wood-based panel trade has increased 800 percent (WWF).

Sawn wood exports totaled $US36.6 billion in 2019, down 11.6% from 2018. Fifteen countries were responsible for 77.4% of the exports.

Wood products are produced from renewable sources.  However, like many building materials, there are associated environmental impacts along the supply chain. 

Life Cycle Carbon Emissions of a Building

According to The Institute of Architects, for every ton of wood used in place of potential alternative materials, emissions of 2.1 tons of carbon (or 7.7 tons of CO2e) are avoided.

Demand for forest products will continue to grow.  According to the Center for International Forestry Research, around 24.7 million acres of commercially planted forests exist worldwide, with another 2.5 million acres of land converted annually. 

The concern is that this ongoing demand for timber products is unsustainable with current forest management practices.