Carbon & Climate

  • Mountain pine-beetle affected forests are one impact of climate change on the landscape.
    Photo: Michael Bednar
    Photo: Michael Bednar
    Photo: Michael Bednar
    Photo: Michael Bednar

In the context of climate change, sustainably managed forests – and the products derived from them – play an essential mitigating role. Forests are one of the globe’s greatest carbon-sequestration tools, and sustainable forestry naturally creates an endless cycle of carbon absorption and storage.

Trees and forest products play a critical role in helping to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gases. As trees grow, they clean the air we breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, storing the carbon in their wood, roots, leaves or needles and surrounding soil, and releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Young, vigorously growing trees absorb the most carbon dioxide, with the rate slowing as they reach maturity.

When trees start to decay, or when forests succumb to wildfire, insects or disease, the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere. In any of these cases, the carbon cycle begins again as the forest is regenerated, either naturally or by planting, and young seedlings once again begin absorbing carbon. Manufacturing wood into products requires far less energy than other materials – and very little fossil fuel energy. Most of the energy that is used comes from converting residual bark and sawdust to electrical and thermal energy, adding to wood’s light carbon footprint.

Climate is a strong influence on forestlands in B.C. It affects tree growth, productivity, and numerous resources derived from these lands. By maintaining biodiversity in our forests, we can help ecosystems to withstand environmental changes such as climate change.