In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21st the International Day of Forests, to celebrate and help raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. The theme for 2017 is Forests and Energy. According to Two Sides North America, wood provides the world with more energy than solar, hydroelectric or wind power, accounting for roughly 40 percent of current global renewal energy supply. It plays an important role in both developing and in some industrialized countries. About 50 percent of global wood production (around 1.86 billion cubic meters) is used as energy for cooking, heating, and electricity generation. For 2.4 billion people, wood fuel means a cooked and more nutritious meal, boiled water, and a warm dwelling.
And for those of us in the print industry, we celebrate the forests for providing us with the wood to make the paper we use every day. But surely harvesting trees to make paper is bad for forests, right? That’s a common myth, and according to the following report reprinted from Two Sides North America, paper production has actually helped with forest management and sustainability.
While it’s true that collecting used paper and recycling it into new products is good for the environment, there’s a catch. The wood fibers in paper can be recycled only about five times before they get too weak and break down. That’s why we need fresh fiber harvested from responsibly managed forests, too. Using fresh fiber creates a sustainable cycle of high-quality recyclable material to continually replenish recycled fiber. And the paper industry’s perpetual use of trees discourages the selloff of land for development, encourages sustainable forestry practices and supports hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Here are 12 reasons why sustainable forest management benefits people and the planet:
- “The fiber cycle could not be maintained indefinitely without relying on new sources of fiber input for making paper. This is due to the technical decline that results from transforming recovered paper into a reusable fiber input. To make the global fiber supply work, a continual input of fresh fiber is needed depending on the grade of paper manufactured (from 34% for tissue to 89% for printing and writing papers.) Without this continual addition of fresh fiber, the supply of usable recycled fiber available to manufacture new products would last only a few months, depending on the grade of paper being manufactured (from 1.5 months for printing and writing papers to 17.5 months for tissue).” 1
- “Over 90% of recovered paper in the world is used in grades other than printing and writing grades, such as newsprint, tissue, container boards, and other packaging or board products. Approximately 6% of the global recovered paper supply is used in printing and writing grades, and this percentage is forecasted to increase only slightly by 2025. Most of the forecasted increase is in container boards, carton boards and tissue paper.” 2
- “Responsibly managed forests are necessary for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystems services, both on individual sites and within the wider landscape. Forest management, including intensive commercial management, can be a critical and cost- effective conservation tool within larger-scale conservation strategies. Well-managed commercial or community forests can for example provide vital buffers for and links between protected areas. Forest management should therefore seek to maintain forest quality and not degrade either the timber resource or the range of associated goods and services (non-timber forest products, environmental services, biodiversity, spiritual values, recreational uses, etc.).” 3
- Sustainable forest management is commonly viewed as one of the most important contributions that the forestry sector can make to sustainable development. 4 [The future of a thriving print and paper industry, and all its economic spin-offs, also depends on well- managed and healthy forests].
- “Healthy forests absorb more carbon than unhealthy forests. Sustainable forest management practices (including fire and disease prevention, better growing conditions, healthier trees and more efficient stand rotation) produce trees that help further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” 5
- “In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fiber or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained [climate change] mitigation benefit.” 6
- “Papermaking creates the need for a dependable supply of responsibly grown wood fiber. The reliable income landowners receive for trees grown on their land encourages them to maintain, renew and manage this valuable resource sustainably. This is an especially important consideration in places facing economic pressures to convert forestland to non-forest uses.” 7
- Changing forest ownership patterns and the divestiture of large tracts of forest land by traditional forest management companies in particular, are important trends to consider when analyzing the loss of forest lands. A number of studies have shown that managing forests for timber production can enhance biodiversity and other ecosystem services in certain settings (Gustafson et al. 2007; Miller et al. 2009). Moreover, where profitable, timber management and the revenues it generates can serve as a hedge against the conversion of forest land to other uses such as real estate development, although the extent to which it can actually do so in the face of rapid increases in land values close to urban areas will vary. The same issue faces nonindustrial private forest landowners who must balance concerns such as their need for current income and desire to maximize their long-term investments for themselves and their children with their desire to be good stewards of the forests under their care (Stein et al. 2009). 8
- The U.S. mailing industry (including paper, printing, paper and print suppliers, graphic design, and mail handling and distribution) support 8.4 million jobs (about 6% of all U.S. jobs) and $1.3 trillion in sales revenue, more than 8.6% of U.S. gross domestic product. 9
- “The U.S. paper and forest products industry accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures approximately $200 billion in products annually, and employs nearly 900,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 47 states. “ 10
- According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture. Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation; logging (legal and illegal) is responsible for 14% of deforestation and fuel wood removals make up 5% of / deforestation. 11
- Among countries with a per capita GDP of at least US$4,600, net deforestation rates have ceased to increase. 12
Here at NextPage we make great strides to be eco-friendly and support all efforts to help with the management and sustainability of the forests. So now do your part today and hug a tree and kiss a paper maker!
2 Sappi Fine Paper North America, 2011
6 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007
7 World Business Council for Sustainable Development and NCASI, 2007
9 Envelope Manufacturers Association Foundation, 2012
10 American Forest and Paper Association, 2013