Logged native forests mostly end up in landfill, not in buildings and furniture

phys.org | 11/16/2018 | Staff
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Victoria has some of the most carbon-dense native forests in the world. Advocates for logging these forests often argue that wood products in buildings and furniture become long-term storage for carbon.

However, these claims are misleading. Most native trees cut down in Victoria become woodchips, pulp and pallets, which have short lifespans before going to landfill. In landfill, the wood breaks down and releases carbon back into the atmosphere.

Hand - Carbon - Market - Australia - Forests

On the other hand, our evolving carbon market means Australia's native forests are extremely valuable as long-term carbon stores. It's time to recognise logging for short-lived wood products is a poor use of native forests.

Victoria has about 7.6 million hectares of native forests. The most carbon-dense areas are in ash forests, consisting of mountain ash, alpine ash and shining gum trees.

Forests - Tonnes - Carbon - Hectare - Centuries

These forests can store up to 1,140 tonnes of carbon per hectare for centuries.

But around 1.82 million hectares of Victorian native forests are allocated to the government's logging business, VicForests.

VicForests - Claims - Market - Area - Forest

VicForests claims logging is the only market for the large area of native forest allocated to it. In other words, its forests are exclusively valued as timber asset, in the same way a wheat crop would be exclusively valued for wheat grain production.

In Victorian native forests, industrial scale clearfell logging removes around 40% of the forest biomass for logs fit for sale.

% - Decomposes - Source - Greenhouse - Gas

The remaining 60% is debris, which is either burned off or decomposes – becoming a major source of greenhouse gas emission.

The first myth we want to address is logging native forests is beneficial because the carbon is stored in wood products. This argument depends on the proportion of forest biomass ending up in wood products, and how long they last before ending up in landfill.

Average - Timber - % - Logs

On average, logs suitable to be sawn into timber make up only an average 35% of total logs cut...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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