Stabilizing Our Climate
Forests are the lungs of our planet. Without them, breathing would be difficult. Without forests, we would see a spike in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a surge in climate change related extreme weather patterns.
Forests play a critical role in stabilizing the earth’s climate – they absorb more than a quarter of present day GHG emissions while keeping thousands of years worth of carbon locked in their trunks, branches and soils – and thereby out of the atmosphere.
Protecting high carbon forests is one of the most immediate and cost effective ways to help keep our climate stable.
High Carbon Forests
Boreal forests that crown the north of Canada and Russia form the world’s largest and most important terrestrial carbon storehouse – holding 22% of the carbon stored on the earth’s land surface and almost twice as much carbon as tropical rainforests.Canada’s Boreal forest alone stores an estimated 186 billion tons of carbon equivalent to 27 years of the world’s carbon emissions: carbon storage valued at $3.7 trillion.
Peat So Deep
Indonesia’s rainforests are unique in their capacity and form one of the most carbon dense ecosystems on the planet. In addition to the trees, the peat in which they grow is a carbon sponge. Much of Indonesia’s rainforests grow in peat more than 10 metres deep. When drained to support fast-growing palms and other plantation trees, the peat decays, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere. About 85% of emissions in Indonesia come from deforestation and land use. The country’s greenhouse gas emissions account for almost 5% of the global total. Indonesia is now the third largest GHG emitter just behind China and the US.
Each year, logging releases more carbon into the atmosphere in Canada than all passenger vehicles in the country. Globally, deforestation accounts for 20% of total carbon emissions. High carbon value forest regions should be protected. Keeping these carbon bank accounts under lock and key is one of our best bets to avoid a climate crisis.
Logging for Pulp & Paper
Tree fiber is relatively recent addition to paper making around the world. In North America, paper was made almost exclusively from recycled linen and rags until 1850. Tax credits and favourable freight rates introduced in the late 1800’s established forests as the primary paper material. These outdated incentives remain to this day and are a big part of our ongoing reliance on endangered forests for our paper needs.
During World War II and until 1960, 25 mills in the U.S. produced paper from wheat straw. More than 20% of paper produced today in India and China comes from wheat and rice straw, and sugarcane bagasse (the fibrous matter leftover after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice). Globally, 8% of paper production comes from agricultural residues. In North America, we still produce all of our paper from wood, and the majority of it from endangered forests. Straw paper is a viable solution that can make destroying forests for paper, ancient history.