Carbon dioxide accounts for 76% of total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor to climate change. With the human population on the rise, carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to increase, due mainly to the fossil fuels energy. These high concentrations of CO2 reduce the earth’s ability to cool itself, resulting in higher temperatures.
Oregon’s working forests – those that are planted, cultivated, harvested and replanted in a sustainable cycle – capture significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. More than half of Oregon’s annual human-caused carbon emissions are captured by its 30 million acres of forest. In fact, the amount of carbon our forests absorb is the highest of the western states and one of the highest in the country. That is why properly managing and maintaining our forests is imperative to keeping our communities healthy.
Forests prevent drought, increase rainfall, and lower the overall temperature of the earth.
During photosynthesis – the process used by plants to convert light energy into fuel – , trees pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into solid carbon stored in woody biomass (think bark, tree trunk, tree limbs, roots, needles and leaves). As a by-product of this process, trees release oxygen, the very thing we humans need to survive.
Sustainable forestry practices involve planting more than three trees for every tree harvested. Similar to children, young trees need to take in more energy than old trees in order to fuel their growth. By harvesting the older trees, we make room for these young trees and increase the amount of carbon our forests can absorb.
When trees are harvested for lumber, the stored carbon remains locked in the wood for the life of the product. This wood can be repurposed from one building to the next, all while the carbon remains safely stored. By utilizing renewable wood products instead of carbon-intensive alternatives like steel and concrete, Oregon can continue to be part of the solution to climate change.
Our growing populations need shelter to live, work and play. This means our building production needs to increase to meet growing demand. These structures can be built with a variety of materials, including concrete, steel, and wood, but wood is the only renewable, sustainable building product available. You can replant trees. You cannot replant steel.
For many years, lumber was mainly reserved for the building of houses. This was because it would not have been structurally sound to construct tall buildings using wood. But thanks to recent innovations, we now have mass timber products that enable us to build wooden skyscrapers. Also known as Engineered Wood Products, this mass timber can be used to construct tall buildings, such as the 85-foot-high Carbon 12 in Portland, Ore.
For ten years, comprehensive research has shown that mass timber buildings far outperform traditional steel and concrete high-rises when it comes to both earthquakes and fires. Why? Regarding earthquakes, the fact that wood is five times lighter than concrete means the seismic forces in the building are greatly reduced. As for fires, wooden buildings burn in a similar fashion to the Ponderosa pine: charred on the outside but unburned inside. Learn more about this process at https://www.thinkwood.com/.
By capturing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that’s a major contributor to global warming, working forests are a key solution in the fight against climate change.
Through photosynthesis, trees pull carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it into solid carbon stored in wood, and in turn, the trees release oxygen as a natural byproduct – just the inverse of human lungs that breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.
When trees are harvested for lumber, the stored carbon remains locked up for the life of the product. With sustainable forestry practices that plant more than three trees for every one harvested, and by promoting the use of renewable wood products in place of carbon-intensive steel or concrete alternatives, Oregon can continue to be part of the solution to climate change.
We’re focused on actively and sustainably managing our forests in Oregon.