Trees as a weapon against climate change
The importance of CO₂ storage
Trees can help fight climate change. As they grow, their wood fibres lock in CO₂ through photosynthesis. "This captures some of the CO₂ gases present in the air for a long time," Professor Joris Van Acker of Ghent University says.
The CO₂ stays in the wood, even when it is processed into a new product such as flooring or furniture. "And even if we recycle and reuse the wood, the CO₂ stays locked inside the wood. Wood is therefore a good material to control climate change. Even when the end product can no longer be recycled, we can convert the energy that is stored inside the wood into green energy," the professor adds. This makes wood a much more sustainable material than alternatives such as concrete or metals.
The sustainable strengths of wood
Wood is therefore sustainable, provided that we use it in the right way. And for this we must take into account wood’s most important asset: its renewability. "It is not inexhaustible, but it is renewable: you can grow more of it," Professor Joris Van Acker says. Sustainable forest management is a condition though: we must respect the forest's regeneration and not cut down more than the growth rate allows.
"This means wood can replace other raw materials that are exhaustible. Even though it has been with us for a very long time already, it is actually a very future-oriented material," the professor concludes.