The 5 Types of Innovative Forest Products – Part 1

America’s treasured forests are brimming with resources that help society thrive. As well as offering locals and vacationers a place to hike and unwind, wooded areas provide access to goods, including construction materials, paper, packaging, and lumber for homes and commercial buildings. In some cases, forest products can even be used in medical and dietary supplements, and as fuel for vehicles. Put simply, contemporary lifestyles are infused with forests and their many resources.

Of course, efficient use of forest resources requires us to pay careful attention to issues surrounding sustainability and conservation. The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) – based in Madison, Wisconsin – is one of several research facilities promoting responsible practices in the forestry industry.

In conjunction with other government agencies and public and private companies, the FPL explores how we can continue producing essential forest products while protecting against wildfires, invasive species, and other issues related to climate change.

In this article, we’ll explore what kinds of products the FPL is currently investigating and how they’re pioneering a science-first approach to forestry. The US Forest Product Labs key areas of research include:

Advanced Composites

Wood composites are materials manufactured using many different forest materials such as tree fibers, wood flakes, wood waste, and natural bio-fibers like corn straw and poultry feathers. Wood composites can help reduce the production of waste materials and enhance the economic efficiency of forest reconstruction projects.

The FPL continues to find new ways of producing composite materials, many of which are utilized in home furnishings and major construction projects. More specifically, advanced composites are often used in interior paneling and the support structures used to erect new buildings. As well as helping to protect forests and reduce waste, composite wood is light, durable, inexpensive, and easy to work with. In future, the FPL hopes to design composites offering even better durability and serviceability.

Advanced Structures

Advanced structures are wood products commonly used in residential homes, commercial buildings, and transport infrastructure. Typically, these products offer strength, cutting-edge design, moisture control, and a range of coatings and finishes.

Lumber has been used as a vital construction material for millennia thanks to its durability and affordability. Excitingly, advanced wood structures can even help tackle climate change thanks to their ability to store carbon and be recylced. As such, wood carries a lower environmental footprint than steel and concrete. Given the clear benefits of lumber, the FPL continues to research ways of boosting its efficiency and sustainability.

Forest Bio-refinery

Wooded areas represent some of the world’s richest sources of biological chemicals and fuels. What’s more, they don’t require pesticides or fertilizer like other sources of biological by-products such as corn and rice. As such, the FPL is committed to researching how to enhance bio-refinery technologies to produce valuable chemicals and fuels for transportation.

Currently, biological products are produced by hydrolyzing wood into sugars. These sugars are then fermented to create ethanol or other fermented substances. The FPL is researching new ways to modify yeast DNA to boost the level of ethanol produced during this process.

In many ways, this research couldn’t come at a better time. As wooded land fills up with overcrowded trees and wooded waste, we’re presented with new opportunities to clean up the forest and satisfy an ever-growing need for alternative fuels. However, harvesting biomass for the production of chemicals and fuels is costly and time-consuming. As such, we must find more cost-effective ways to remove biomass from forests.

Join Nature’s Packaging next week as we reveal the last two forest product innovation types.

Carbon Sequestration

What is Carbon Sequestration?

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing carbon and storing it in a way that won’t contribute to climate change.

If you’re familiar with the concept of a carbon footprint, then you are off to a great start. A carbon footprint measures how much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are due to activities like driving a vehicle or using electricity to run facilities and machinery.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere and contribute to global warming. They’re “greenhouse gases” because they work like the glass of a greenhouse: they let sunlight in but don’t allow the heat that is generated to escape back outside the atmosphere of the Earth into space. The result is that global temperatures rise, and weather patterns become more severe and less predictable.

Carbon dioxide and methane are two common greenhouse gases  that are produced by activities like burning fossil fuels or managing livestock.

But nature has developed an excellent resource to help pull carbon out of the environment.

The wonderful tree.

As trees mature, they absorb sunlight through photosynthesis and store carbon in the form of carbohydrates, which are used by the tree for growth. This carbon capture process occurs within all plants to convert sunlight into chemical energy. Trees are especially good at it because they typically have an extensive root and leaf structure.

If the tree is harvested to become a forest product like lumber, it retains that carbon—meaning that wood products act as “sinks” for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In other words, using wood helps remove carbon from the atmosphere—which can help mitigate climate change.

Wood:  A Carbon Storage Powerhouse

A tree’s roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and sap all contain carbon, and while they’re growing, they take up even more carbon dioxide.

The amount of carbon stored in any particular tree varies with its size and age, the type of wood it produces (hardwood or softwood), and how dense the wood is. You can determine the density by measuring how much space an oven-dry wood sample occupies.

The ability to store carbon in plant biomass, such as trees, makes possible the creation of a sustainable energy source.

The process of carbon sequestration involves three main steps:

  1. Capturing CO2 from the atmosphere
  2. Transporting it to underground storage.
  3. Storing the captured CO2

The quantity of carbon sequestered will depend on various factors, including climate, geography, and land management practices.

For centuries, humanity has relied on forests and wood for a multitude of products. Today, industries harvest and utilize trees for everything from construction materials to cosmetics.

However, it turns out that forest products are capable of continuing their carbon sequestration process. Instead of releasing carbon back into the atmosphere through decomposition, wood products can store carbon within their cellular structure, keeping it out of the atmosphere. It means wood products are a great source of renewable energy!

As a renewable resource, wood is a vital component of the circular economy. Wood products store carbon throughout their life cycle and can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Wood is very often one of the few materials that is produced and utilized within the same geographic region. It results in a low carbon footprint compared to many other materials (e.g., concrete, steel, plastic).

Reduce > Re-use > Recycle > Renew

Encouraging the use of wood products that sequester carbon is a small part of the larger positive impact on the environment and climate change. Another step to this equation is to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle whenever possible.

Wood is a renewable resource. Responsibly managed forests help in the fight against climate change by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere on a global scale. And they do it at an astonishing rate. A single hardwood tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and one acre of forest can absorb twice as much CO2 as an acre of farmland.

When you purchase products like wood pallets to use in your supply chain, you support an industry that uses a renewable resource and recycles that resource millions of times a day, every day.

 

Happy Arbor Day

This is Arbor Day!

If there’s one day of the year that the forests of the world are thankful for, it would probably be Arbor Day. The word arbor comes from the Latin for “tree,” and on this day, communities throughout the world come together to celebrate trees and plant them together.

They provide oxygen, a home for animals and birds, carbon dioxide control, shade from the sun, windbreaks for shelter from storms, erosion control during rainstorms, and even a way to mark the seasons.

They provide shade in the hot summer months and keep our houses warm during winter. They give us food with their fruit or nuts, and we can use the extracts we make from them in medicines.

What is Arbor Day?

Arbor Day is a special day to celebrate trees and all they do for us and our planet. On this day, communities come together to plant trees and recognize their importance to our ecosystem and physical health.

We celebrate it on the last Friday in April. This year has a special significance because it is the 150th anniversary of the first Arbor Day and the 50th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation.

What is the History of Arbor Day?

Arbor Day was first celebrated on April 10th, 1872, by J. Sterling Morton, the Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland.

Morton proposed the day as a way to encourage people to plant trees. The day was an incredible success, with an estimated 1 million trees planted by school children and community members.

Since that time, Arbor Day has become an annual tradition in many countries around the world.

Today, people celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees in their communities, participating in conservation activities like forest clean-ups, and learning about the benefits of trees for people and the planet.

The Arbor Day Foundation

The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to promote the planting and stewardship of trees. The foundation was started in 1972 by John Rosenow, inspired by the success of the first Arbor Day 100 years before.

The foundation provides resources and support for communities to plan and carry out their own tree-planting activities. They also offer educational materials about trees, their benefits, and how to plant and care for them.

In the years since its founding, the Arbor Day Foundation has become a global leader in environmental conservation.

Arbor Day Foundation Programs and Projects

The Arbor Day Foundation carries out projects locally and globally to work towards its mission of planting trees to tackle some of the most significant issues the planet faces today.

At a local level, the foundation supports community-based tree planting activities, forest conservation efforts, and educational initiatives.

Some of their projects include a community forestry program under the name of Tree City USA, which honors towns committed to planting and nurturing trees, the Building With Trees program in which they partner with builders and developers, and Tree Line USA, a recognition program for utilities.

At a global level, the foundation promotes reforestation efforts, particularly in areas that have been impacted by deforestation. The Rain Forest Rescue program supports local partners and communities in their stewardship of the vital tropical rain forest ecosystems.

Arbor Day Foundation Fast Facts

Here are some key figures for more background on The Arbor Day Foundation and their work:

  • It was created in 1972 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Arbor Day.
  • It is one of the world’s largest nonprofit conservation organizations dedicated to planting trees.
  • There are nearly 1 million members of the Arbor Day Foundation.
  • It works with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters to plant trees in national and state forests.
  • It recognizes more than 3,400 communities through the Tree City USA program.
  • It has distributed over 4.5 million trees to members to plant.
  • The foundation has also planted over 8 million trees in US forests and over 2 million trees in rain forests.

The Arbor Day Foundation is also an excellent resource for learning about trees and information about how to plant and care for them. Their website has many fun and user-friendly educational tools to help any budding arborist up their tree skills.

Here are a few of the tools they offer:

  • Hardiness zone lookup. This tool allows you to find out what zones are best suited for different types of trees based on factors like temperature and rainfall.
  • Tree identifier. This interactive tool helps you identify different types of trees based on the characteristics and features of their leaves. It also provides information about how to care for every kind of tree.
  • Tree planting and care guide. This guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to plant and care for trees through all the different stages of their life cycle. It also provides tips on more specific situations, such as how to save trees that have been damaged after a storm or plant trees to stop soil erosion and conserve soil and water.

Whether you are a professional arborist or just someone looking to learn more about trees, the Arbor Day Foundation has tools and resources you can use to explore your passion for these essential and beautiful plants.

This Arbor Day, take some time to celebrate the trees in your life and plant a new one!

It’s also a perfect opportunity to get involved with the Arbor Day Foundation by planting trees, supporting their conservation efforts, or simply learning more about these amazing plants.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Arbor Day, remember that every bit helps when it comes to ensuring a healthy future for our planet.

What is Earth Day?

Friday, April 22, 2022, marks this year’s Earth Day, an annual day of action to tackle the ongoing climate crisis, promote sustainability, and demonstrate support for those working to protect the planet. Inaugurated in 1970, the event continues to grow in line with the scale of the ongoing ecological threat, with events taking place in over 190 countries.

Origin of Earth Day

Earth Day started in 1969 as an initiative to raise awareness of the deteriorating health of the environment on US college campuses. In response to concerns surrounding air and water quality in the country, Wisconsin’s Senator Gaylord Nelson announced to the national media that he would be organizing teach-ins on college campuses, recruiting young activist Denis Hayes to lead the sessions.

Following a series of successful events, Hayes built a team of 85 people to promote public teach-ins across the US. Soon, a wide array of organizations and faith groups became involved. In 1970, the first nationwide Earth Day took place, with millions of Americans taking to the streets to demonstrate against the harmful effects of industrial development.

Following a successful day of action, Congress created the US Environmental Protection Agency and passed several laws designed to mitigate ecological damage, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Clean Air Act.

Earth Day Milestones

Earth Day has grown in size and strength since its successful launch in 1970. In 1990, Earth Day spread throughout the world, mobilizing millions of people and emphasizing the urgency of environmental action. It also lay the foundations for the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

By the time the millennium came around, Earth Day had spread to 184 countries and inspired hundreds of thousands of people to gather in Washington, DC, to express the need for decisive action on global warming.

Earth Day 2022

Today, Earth Day represents a global movement. Thanks to the widespread availability of the internet, billions of people engage with Earth Day every year. This year’s theme is “Invest in our Planet”, a slogan designed to encourage individuals, corporations, and world leaders to put money towards greener technologies and environmental projects that promote bio-diversity across the globe.

What’s New on Earth Day?

Businesses and individuals are making pledges to “Invest in our Planet” by switching to greener ways of working and reducing their carbon footprints. The Earth Day 2022 website includes an action toolkit to help people get involved with the event and make a difference in their local communities, as well as tips for investing in the planet.

As the movement’s website states, “For us, every day is Earth Day”, so actions and events will continue throughout the year to ensure environmental action does not lose its vital momentum.

Forest Products: Science and Sustainability

America’s treasured forests are brimming with resources that help society thrive. As well as offering locals and vacationers a place to hike and unwind, wooded areas provide access to goods, including construction materials, paper, packaging, and lumber for homes and commercial buildings. In some cases, forest products can even be used in medical and dietary supplements, and as fuel for vehicles. Put simply, contemporary lifestyles are utterly dependent on forests and their many resources.

Of course, efficient use of forest resources requires us to pay careful attention to issues surrounding sustainability and conservation. The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) – based in Madison, Wisconsin – is one of several research facilities promoting responsible practices in the forestry industry.

In conjunction with other government agencies and public and private companies, the FPL explores how we can continue producing essential forest products while protecting against wildfires, invasive species, and other issues related to climate change.

In this article, we’ll explore what kinds of products the FPL is currently investigating and how they’re pioneering a science-first approach to forestry. Key areas of research include:

Advanced Composites

Wood composites are materials manufactured using many different forest materials such as tree fibers, wood flakes, wood waste, and natural bio-fibers like corn straw and poultry feathers. Wood composites can help reduce the production of waste materials and enhance the economic efficiency of forest reconstruction projects.

The FPL continues to find new ways of producing composite materials, many of which are utilized in home furnishings and major construction projects. More specifically, advanced composites are often used in interior paneling and the support structures used to erect new buildings. As well as helping to protect forests and reduce waste, composite wood is light, durable, inexpensive, and easy to work with. In future, the FPL hopes to design composites offering even better durability and serviceability.

Advanced Structures

Advanced structures are wood products commonly used in residential homes, commercial buildings, and transport infrastructure. Typically, these products offer strength, cutting-edge design, moisture control, and a range of coatings and finishes.

Lumber has been used as a vital construction material for millennia thanks to its durability and affordability. Excitingly, advanced wood structures can even help tackle climate change thanks to their recyclable nature and ability to store carbon. As such, wood carries a lower environmental footprint than steel and concrete. Given the clear benefits of lumber, the FPL continues to research ways of boosting its efficiency and sustainability.

Forest Biorefinery

Wooded areas represent some of the world’s richest sources of biological chemicals and fuels. What’s more, they don’t require pesticides or fertilizer like other sources of biological by-products such as corn and rice. As such, the FPL is committed to researching how to enhance bio-refinery technologies to produce valuable chemicals and fuels for transportation.

Currently, biological products are produced by hydrolyzing wood into sugars. These sugars are then fermented to create ethanol or other fermented substances. The FPL is researching new ways to modify yeast DNA to boost the level of ethanol produced during this process.

In many ways, this research couldn’t come at a better time. As wooded land fills up with overcrowded trees and wooded waste, we’re presented with new opportunities to clean up the forest and satisfy an ever-growing need for alternative fuels. However, harvesting biomass for the production of chemicals and fuels is costly and time-consuming. As such, we must find more cost-effective ways to remove biomass from forests.

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology represents a cutting-edge field within the multi-disciplinary spheres of science and technology. Broadly speaking, it refers to the analysis and engineering of matter at the molecular and atomic scales. To put the practice into perspective, a nano-meter is equivalent to one billionth of a meter.

So, how does nanotechnology relate to forestry and wood products? Well, scientists are currently researching and developing wood-related materials and systems that comprise different chemical, physical, and biological properties than materials found on a bigger scale. Researchers at FPL, for example, are conducting studies at the nano-scale to explore under-explored components of wood.

Our increasing ability to explore and manipulate materials at such as small scale is exciting for researchers in the engineering and technology sectors. Nano-materials could be added to everything from cement to cloth products to increase their durability and sustainability. In some cases, they could even be used to produce heat-resistant materials. More specifically, nano-cellulose holds promising potential as an inexpensive substitute for non-renewable materials across virtually all manufacturing sectors.

Woody Biomass

An alarming trend in recent years, the US has experienced a growing number of intense wildfires in recent years. Part of the reason for this increase relates to the fact that US forests contain significant levels of underutilized and small-diameter wooded materials. Such overcrowded forests raise the risk of fires developing. What’s more, they’re prone to infestations and disease.

What’s the solution to this dangerous problem? Traditionally, forests have been thinned out to reduce the risk of fire and keep forests healthy. However, this process is relatively costly and could exceed the value of the forest products collected during removal.

As such, the FPL has been researching the best ways to use the by-products of thinning, helping local communities threatened by wildfires make the most of woody biomass. Currently, the FPL is looking at the potential use of small-diameter wood in large structures such as sheds, bridges, trail paths, picnic shelters, and other buildings that may benefit from a rustic look.

Forest Products = Positive Change

There are plenty of innovative ways for communities and businesses to utilize wood and forest by-products. In future, the industry is likely to shift toward even more sustainable processes, with the goal of helping companies and communities become more ecologically aware and have a more positive effect on climate change.

 

Wood Pallets: An Eco-Friendly Choice

Sustainability is an ongoing challenge for industry supply chains. Consumers often don’t recognize the enormous complexity of a reliable supply chain. According to the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association, nearly two billion pallets are in use every day in the United States.

Within the industry, there are staunch advocates for both wood pallets and plastic pallets. Each group claims their choice is the most environmentally friendly.

Researchers at Penn State University decided to take an unbiased look at the debate. They found that wooden pallets are more eco-friendly and sustainable than plastic.

Top 3 Eco-Friendly Benefits of Wood Pallets

Renewable Resource

Wood pallets are made using sustainably sourced wood. The timber is often cut for other uses and the by-products are used for pallet construction. Pallet wood does not come from old-growth forests.

The forest products industry has worked hard over the decades to become a model of sustainability. In 2020, the NWPCA and Pallet Foundation put together an Environmental Product Declaration for wood pallets.

Working with the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Lab, the UL-certified document is a testament to the positive environmental impact of wood pallet construction. Two new trees are planted for each one harvested, and 1.7 billion trees are planted in the United States every year.

In 2007 there were over twice as many hardwood trees in the U.S. than there were 50 years earlier. Trees are a naturally renewable resource, and responsible management creates more carbon-capturing trees than it harvests.

Plastic pallets are made with petroleum products. The extraction of these non-renewable fossil fuels produces air and water pollution as well as soil contamination. The Penn State study found that plastic pallets create far more aquatic and terrestrial ecotoxicity and contribute much more to global warming than their wooden counterparts.

The simple fact is that wood pallets are made of trees, not oil. They are less harmful to the environment at every step, and they contribute to a more environmentally sustainable supply chain.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The most eco-friendly products are those that can be reused. Wood pallets can be used multiple times for their main purpose and be repurposed repeatedly. Damaged pallets can be repaired or made into other shipping materials.

When a pallet is no longer viable for shipping, the wood becomes everything from furniture and home décor to mulch and biofuel. A simple search for pallet wood on Pinterest reveals hundreds and hundreds of projects that use wooden pallets that have been retired from active use.

Reusing pallet wood for home projects reduces the use of new hardwood timber, reduces the purchase and consumption of materials that are not sustainably sourced, and decreases our reliance on plastic.

Recycling pallet wood into products like mulch and animal bedding saves newly harvested timber for other uses.

Estimates are that about 93% of pallets in the United States are made of wood and that 95% of those pallets are recycled by companies, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

Wood Pallets are Biodegradable

The recycling of wood pallets has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. That alone made wood pallets increasingly environmentally friendly and extended their useful lives.

But at some point, pallet wood is not going to be useful anymore. When it reaches the end of its lifespan, a wood pallet does the most eco-friendly thing of all: it biodegrades.

Properly treated and disposed of pallet wood decomposes. It adds nutrients to the soil, provides homes for plant and animal life, and leaves nothing behind but the fertile ground for new trees.

The small percentage of pallet wood that ends up being disposed of does exactly what we want our trash to do, it benefits the environment. After being recycled, reused, and repurposed for years, responsibly discarded wooden pallets nourish the environment rather than disrupting ecosystems and clogging our waterways.

Proponents of plastic pallets point to their durability and longevity. And they certainly can be strong and make many trips as pallets. But they’re not sustainably sourced, they’re not easily reused or recycled, and they don’t biodegrade.

Wooden pallets are an integral part of a reliable, environmentally friendly, sustainable supply chain. As consumers become aware of their complicated environmental footprint, they will be looking for companies that use wood pallets in their supply chains.

A Few Reasons To Love Recycled and Reclaimed Wood

Whether you are someone who works on wooden DIY projects in your free time or earns a living making finding new ways to work with this wonderful renewable resource, finding a good source of raw material is essential. With that in mind, the following Nature’s Packaging post is a short list of reasons you should love recycled and salvaged wood.

Here’s Looking at You, Wood!

One of the primary benefits of using recycled, salvaged wood is that it offers a unique look aesthetically. Reclaimed wood is one of the few materials where versatility in re-use can lead to beautiful creations.

Recycled Wood Artwork

In particular, recycled wood tends to have a one-of-a-kind appearance that can’t be recreated.

Reclaimed Wood Artwork showing figure in wood pattern.

These aesthetically unique characteristics add to the attraction and can contribute significantly to wood-based art becoming sought after pieces of design and creativity. Artists often work with the various defects in the wood figure and discover novel ways to incorporate them into a new pattern and perspective.

Sustainable and Green Friendly

Recycled and salvaged wood is green-friendly. Wood is one of the most renewable and recyclable resources on the planet. The practice of silviculture is the ability to grow and manage trees for use in everything from building materials, to woodworking, to industrial uses (like pallet building).

During their development, trees continually provide oxygen in the environment, and absorb and retain carbon dioxide. Moreover, unlike some plastics or other synthetics, wood does not produce out-gassing of harmful vapors during its deterioration.

When using salvaged or recycled wood, this is an even more green-friendly option. Re-purposing salvaged wood prevents it from being unnecessarily wasted or discarded into a landfill. It also helps decrease the energy consumption that occurs when producing new materials. And recycled wood continues to sequester carbon for many years during its complete lifecycle.

Structural Stability of Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed and salvaged timber can offer a high level of structural stability. Since most of the timber has been exposed to various elements for decades at a time, the weathered wood can actually be stronger. If the wood has been salvaged from older structures, it often comes from old-growth timber. Old growth timber is more dense, stronger with a tighter grain and hardness, burns slower, and is more insect resistant.

Old growth timber compared to new growth timber by tree ring count

Old growth vs new growth timber

Wooden Pallet Recycling

Recycled wood is a key component in the sustainability of the modern supply chain. The pallet industry can proudly boast of a 95% recycle rate for wooden pallets and containers. Their full lifecycle begins with new pallets being built from the less desirable sections of raw timber (industrial lumber), thus utilizing more sections of a tree rather than wasting it. Their repeated use and repair greatly extends their utility lifecycle phase within the supply chain. And their end phase is re-purposed into end products like wood pellets for fuel, ground mulch, animal bedding and many other products. Or the pallet components can end up as a wonderful piece of art or even furniture.

patio furniture made from recycled wood pallets

Vital to the wood life cycle and a key element in sustainable practices (industrial, commercial, and personal), recycled and repurposed wood not only offers you a unique multi-purpose utility, it also contributes to a more sustainable environment. Wood makes the world a more beautiful place and truly moves the world as well.

Today I Learned

The 7 Essential Criteria of Sustainable Forest Management-Part 2

Join us in this Part 2 of Nature’s Packaging, “The 7 Essential Criteria of Forest Management”, where we finish describing the essential criteria and explain their importance in sustainable forest management.

Criterion 5: Maintenance of Forests Contribution to Global Carbon Cycles

Forests form one of the largest renewable soil carbon reservoirs, and they play a significant role in global carbon cycles. The carbon stocks are captured or processed in the dead and decaying matter, wood products, above and below the ground biomass, and soil. The impacts of climate change affect the structure and distribution of forests, their health, temperature, and even contribute to forest fires that can delete carbon capture and storage altogether.

While the forest management efforts can also alter the carbon cycle, sound management activities that enhance the carbon capture capacity in forests can positively impact carbon dioxide levels. Biomass in the forests can replace emissive fossil fuels, diminishing greenhouse gases.

Unlike any other criterion, the maintenance of forests’ contribution to global cycles embodies the direct link between the environment and the global economy. Carbon cycles result from fossil fuel burning, which are significant energy sources in the activity of the modern economy. Therefore, the capacity of forests to isolate carbon from the atmosphere will be a critical factor in global warming and the ability of the global economy to adjust to wider and more damaging environmental conditions and their associated costs.

This criterion uses three indicators that focus on the total carbon pools in forests, forest product carbon pools, and the amount of fossil fuel emissions avoided through forest biomass.

Criterion 6: Maintenance and Enhancement of Long-Term Multiple Socioeconomic Benefits to Meet the Needs of Societies

Forests provide a range of products for the benefit of society (pallets move the world!). These products serve the needs of different communities, and some of them are solely dependent on the goods and services for their livelihood. As a result, the global statistics on the production and use of forest products, employment opportunities provided in the forest sector, and investment illustrate some of the benefits and the needs for maintenance and enhancement.

Notably, the first five criteria are centered on the sustainability aspect of forests at the expense of the economic aspect. This criterion is the only one with an economic focus and thus has over 20 indicators, more than any other criterion. Due to their large number, the indicators are grouped into investments, employment, and culture.

The employment category capitalizes on the ability of forests to provide work and wages, while the investment category focuses on the attention of the society to forest maintenance. The cultural category is concerned with the most social of the socioeconomic indicators.

Criterion 7: Legal, Institutional, and Economic Framework for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management

The 7th criterion is concerned with a country’s overall institutional, legal, economic, and policy environment. It outlines the context for working groups to consider the preceding six criteria. The considerations or indicators here relate to the institutional capacity, legislation and policy measures at all levels, economic arrangements, and creating a conducive environment for sustainable forest management.

The criterion is associated with some inherent challenges, and thus the member countries have adopted different approaches to suit their specific societal and cultural needs. The complications arise from the variety of sources to make it difficult to capture relevant and meaningful quantifiable data and information to form the proper baselines from a global perspective. Working groups involved in the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators are resolved to revamp the criterion’s indicators to 10 and simplify the language to solve the inherent challenges.

Conclusion

The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators are a beginning step in providing tools for collecting and reporting data necessary for conserving and maintaining sustainable forest ecosystems. These tools are designed and applied to depict the necessary components of sustainable forest management and provide working groups with a framework that describes the condition and value of those ecosystems.

They present a set of non-legally binding principles for the 12 member countries that are essential players in forest management and the global pursuit of the larger sustainable development goals. They are, however, collaborative and internationally agreed-upon criteria specifically meant to serve as a response to the urgent need to address sustainable forest management as part of a larger solution that addresses climate change and the socio-economic impacts on countries, industries, and people.

Today I Learned

The 7 Essential Criteria of Sustainable Forest Management-Part 1

The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators were created in 1992 during the Earth Summit. They addressed the sustainable management of forests to conserve the overall range of critical functions and characteristics like carbon cycles, forest health, water and soil protection, biodiversity, and forest productivity.

In February 1995, the member countries, including the United States, Australia, Argentina, Canada, China, Japan, and others, adopted these set of criteria for use by the working groups assigned to gauge their practicality and value.

The criteria dubbed-“The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management”, were developed to focus on the challenge of assessing tangible progress towards forest conditions and sustainability.

The indicators are measurable components relating to a part of (or) the entire natural system, which can give insights into the condition of the forest ecosystem.

In today’s Nature’s Packaging post, we describe these essential criteria and explain their importance in sustainable forest management.

Criterion 1: Conservation of Biological Diversity

Biological diversity refers to the variety of life supported by Earth. It comprises distinct levels, including ecosystems, genes, species, and various creatures. The interactions of these levels make the earth habitable. However, in the wake of the climate change threats, the entire concept of biodiversity is under threat, which is why the first criterion focuses on the conservation of biological diversity.

Both harvest prepared and natural forests play a significant part in biodiversity. They are part of ecosystems where different life forms interact with the environment and allow the system to respond to changes, recover from disturbances, and ensure the sustainability of ecological processes.

Human activities tend to adversely affect biodiversity by altering habitats, extinction of species, reducing indigenous populations, and introducing invasive species. Conserving biological diversity allows the forest ecosystems to function properly and provide broader environmental and economic value (forest products).

In this criterion, there are a total of nine indicators. The first three are concerned with the diversity of the ecosystem, describing the type, amount, and organization of forests which provide insights into the ability of forests to support organisms and ecological processes. The other six indicators are concerned with the number and biological diversity of plants and animals supported in these habitats, focusing on the species and genes.

Criterion 2: Maintenance of Productive Capacity of Forest Ecosystems

Populations worldwide rely on forests directly for a multitude of forest-based products. The sustainability of these products is directly linked to the forests’ productive capacity, and if the requirements exceed the limit of that capacity, the ecosystem is depleted or damaged.

Thus, populations must ensure the sustainability of forests by determining acceptable levels of extraction of all the forest-based products that will not collapse the ecosystem. This must also account for the type of forest-based products in demand and how that demand changes due to social, technological, and economic trends advancements. Variations in a forests’ productive capacity can be a signal to modify those trends or other factors affecting the ecosystems.

The second criterion thus focuses on maintaining the productive capacities of forests. It has five indicators, where the first four indicators track conventional measures relating to the trends and status of the forests that support wood supplies. The last indicator focuses on the trends of non-wood products extracted from these forests.

Criterion 3: Maintenance of Ecosystem Health and Vitality

The expansion of a forests health and vitality is dependent on the functioning of the ecosystem’s processes and components. Any natural ecosystem, to maintain its functions and active processes, must have the ability to recover from external disturbances. While most disturbances and stress are natural, some extreme occurrences overwhelm the ecosystem, undermining its ability to function effectively.

As a result, there can be severe ecological and economic consequences, including environmental degradation and elimination of forests benefits to the society. Forest ecosystem health and vitality maintenance efforts can help minimize and mitigate these risks.

The criterion for maintenance of ecosystem health and vitality has three indicators. The indicators focus on the area and percentage of forests affected by circumstances beyond historic variations, lands affected by specific levels of air pollutants, and lands with significantly reduced biological components due to changes in critical ecological processes.

Criterion 4: Conservation and Maintenance of Soil and Water Resources

Soil and water are the core components of a functioning and productive forest ecosystem. These forest components are essential in the regulation of groundwater. Further, the health of underground water systems is directly impacted by topography, soil, and water interactions. The interdependence of soil and water and forest ecosystems makes their conservation an essential aspect of forest management.

The interactions involved can significantly affect habitats and poor management can result in the loss of riparian buffering capability, degradation of aquatic habitats, and soil compaction. Water flow changes can result in flooding risks which threaten the lives of humans and other organisms.

It is the fourth criterion and has five indicators. The first four indicators focus on soil and water resources protection and management practices. In contrast, the last indicator is the size of water bodies with the noteworthy changes in physical, chemical, and biological properties.

 

Join Nature’s Packaging next week as we finish up with the remaining criteria in our next blog post, “The 7 Essential Criteria for Sustainable Forest Management – Part 2”

Hearne Hardwooods web homepage

Wood on the Web: Hearne Hardwoods

It’s time for the Nature’s Packaging – Wood on the Web series. In these posts, we explore interesting and unique web resources all about wood. In this blog post we look at Hearne Hardwoods, a specialty lumber yard with some very unique offerings.

Have you ever seen a beautiful piece of wood furniture and said to yourself, ‘Wow! Look at that beautiful wood grain. Where do they find pieces like that’?

Well, in some cases they find those beautiful pieces of wood at Hearne Hardwoods.

Hearne Hardwooods web homepage

About Hearne Hardwoods

Hearne Hardwoods Inc. was started in 1997 by Rick and Pat Hearne as a small, family-owned, specialty hardwood lumber company located in Oxford Pennsylvania on a historic 18th century homestead. From their simple beginning, the family grew it from a four person company with eight thousand square foot of usable space to a thriving business with eighteen employees and over fifty thousand square feet of manufacturing, storage, and a marvelous showroom. As the company has grown, so has their ability to provide unique wood products for new markets. Originally they were strictly a raw material yard providing exotic woods from around the world. Now, they have “branched” out to include manufacturing musical instrument blanks and this side of their business has grown significantly.

Hearne hardwoods strives to offer selections of some of the world’s most unique and gorgeous wood pieces from sustainably managed forests delivered to customers in a friendly, welcoming manner. All Hearne Hardwoods customers are treated with respect and warmth. The staff onsite are very knowledgeable about their inventory and are ready to help every customer with their project, big or small.

Today, Rick Hearne and his son, Brian, travel across the globe in search of the wonderful treasures of nature that inspire woodworkers and instill a sense of awe in their customers.

Hearne Hardwood Products

Hearne offers several different categories of products:

  • Raw lumber – rough sawn, random width and length with wide selection of species from Apple to Ziricote.

  • Live edge slabs – most kiln dried, some air dried. Sawn and sold as flitches (sawn from a single log and sold together). Available bookmatched.

  • Tonewoods – high quality guitar and ukele parts.

  • Lumber piles – basically means what it says. Raw materials sold as a unit.

  • Burls and Blocks – these are used for inlays, furniture pieces, gun stocks, turned pieces, etc.

  • Veneers – used to cover large areas. Great for paneling, doors, and cabinets.

  • Hardwood flooring – custom made to fit your personal style and taste.

  • You Name It! – unique pieces ideal for art, sculpture, and table bases.

Sustainability

Sustainable forest management is vital to preserving forests in general and especially when dealing with unique and exotic hardwoods from around the world. Hearne Hardwoods is pledged to procure forest products from legal sources who practice sustainable forest management.

They have invested in a rosewood plantation based in Central America that includes a nursery and a sawmill. They are committed to building a renewable resource that benefits the local populace as well. The plantations are diversified ecosystems of indigenous trees and plants that allow the local communities to prosper from the land. They have also mahogany, cedar, avocado, mango, and orange trees within the tracks of the plantation.

As part of sustainable management, the trees initially grow among corn stalks and when they grow tall enough they will provide shade for organic coffee bushes.

Another part of their commitment to sustainable management and renewable the resources is their project to replant fifteen saplings for every tree harvested. The trees are GPS tagged in a forest management plan and their positions are provided to the local government for tracking and so that future members of the community are aware of the resources and can take part in their growth and harvesting.

 

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