The New Zealand Forest Owners Association has joined 17 other forest and timber organisations around the world in launching the International Wood Manifesto in London, to lead into the crucial COP26 UN climate change conference starting in Glasgow on Sunday.
The Manifesto is making the strong case for wood, to catch the attention of the international delegations on their way to Glasgow and will also feature in events at the global negotiations.
It points to 40 percent of global energy related to COâ emissions originating in the construction and built environment.
Against this, the Manifesto identifies “wood being the only sustainable material that grows worldwide which can enable a sustainable decarbonisation of the built environment …. providing vast carbon sinks in our rural areas and carbon stores in our cities.”
The New Zealand Forest Owners Association Chief Executive, and former Chair of the International Council of Forest and Paper Organisations, David Rhodes, says growing more forests and using more wood is rapidly becoming a key factor in the global effort to reduce gross greenhouse gas emission levels.
“Forests are a double benefit. The trees themselves sequester carbon from the atmosphere and then the wood used in construction will continue to store that carbon and avoid the need to use carbon emitting steel and concrete,” David Rhodes says.
“So we are heading in the right direction here in New Zealand. The Climate Change Commission has recommended another 380,000 hectares of plantation forest would need to be planted by 2035 to meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon zero goal.”
“That reflects the emphasis the international science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, puts on forest greenhouse gas mitigation.”
“And the government has implemented a Wood First procurement policy for its construction needs.”
“MPI is backing the showcase Clearwater Quays Apartments five-storey project in Christchurch, which is nearing completion. It’s demonstrating to architects and building specifiers, the advantages – environmental and economic – of using modern engineered timber construction.”
David Rhodes believes that wood’s role in an industrially transformed sustainable economy is only just starting.
“Worldwide, and here in New Zealand with Scion, there is a huge amount of research into the bio-based circular economy, to find ways to turn wood into a range of materials which are currently made out of mined petrochemicals.”
“Perhaps the first sign of implementation here is the use of wood fuel in the New Zealand dairy industry, which will replace tens of thousands of tonnes of coal burning a year. Fonterra is already using wood pellets at its Te Awamutu factory with more plants to follow.”
“This illustrates how wood can not only offset emissions but actually reduce them as well.”
But David Rhodes warns there does need to be a sufficient area of plantation forests for New Zealand to reach its sequestration and carbon storage ambitions.