A permanent increase of roughly 15 per cent in logging volumes would have an unsustainable impact on carbon sinks in Finland, finds a new Finnish study. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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A STUDY led by the University of Eastern Finland has confirmed that increasing logging would severely complicate the effort to combat climate change.

The Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and University of Finland on Tuesday reported that increasing logging would reduce carbon sinks unsustainably if forest industry companies used the raw material to manufacture the same products as today.

The researchers simulated the impact of a permanent increase of nine million cubic metres – from 58 to 67 million cubic metres – in the annual constructional timber harvest on carbon sequestration, concluding that it would take more than 100 years to rectify the negative impact.

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A total of 68.9 million cubic metres of industrial roundwood was harvested in Finland in 2018.

The amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere – measured in carbon dioxide equivalents – would in that scenario rise by seven million tonnes a year. Road traffic, in comparison, produces an estimated 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions a year in Finland.

The simulation takes into account the fact that increasing the use of bioenergy and wood products can compensate for roughly a half of the decrease in carbon sequestration.

“In order to compensate for the detriment, you would have to succeed in promoting forest growth considerably from the baseline of the calculations. The wood should additionally be used to make products that store carbon longer than existing products. They should also reduce the use of oil, coal and natural gas compared to existing products,” reads a press release from Luke, Syke and the University of Eastern Finland.

The findings can be interpreted as a validation of the climate policy approach of the European Union, which is encouraging its member states to preserve carbon sinks at the level of 2000–2010 in the 2020s.

The study was funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland and supported by FORBIO, a project focusing on the sustainable bioenergy production potential of underutilised land in Europe.

The findings were published in the Journal of Environmental Management.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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