Part 11 – The Journey of wood Flooring

 

What is deforestation?

Nowadays, deforestation is a large scale arising global issue. It is the reason to consider the production methods and sustainable management of forests when specifying wood flooring.

To understand the gravity of the issue, the original figure of four billion hectares of total forest coverage is in significant decline. In 2017 there was a tree cover loss of over 72.5 million acres, 50% more than the previous year.

There is a range of different guises where deforestation occurs, some of them are permanent, driven by shifting agriculture and the need to mine for materials beneath the trees. The majority of trees cut down in these areas come from tropical hardwoods, which are very strong but slow-growing, and once they fall, they won’t grow back again. The answer to this problem is temporary deforestation, which is the management of the supply of trees. Since trees are regenerative and can grow, regrow and renew due to carbon, their successful growth relies on the delicate ecosystem, so it is imperative to support the lifetime of the forests.

E.O. Wilson said: ”Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”

Trees Growing Cycles

 

Tree as a crop

A well-managed forest growth requires trees to be maturing at various stages in their lifecycle within the same forest, so there is a constant lifecycle of growing going on. Therefore, this ensures the forest isn’t lost and the soil is kept rich in biodiversity, encouraging the areas that have been previously harvested, to renew. The length of these cycles depends on the species. For example, pine trees mature after five years and grow to full height after 30 years. The slower-growing trees, like oak, take 100 years to reach maturity and continue growing for more than two centuries.

In the harvesting stage process of a well-managed forest, all the tree parts are used to reduce waste, so the factories and mills work together to ensure the parts that don’t have proper use are turned into compost or to create bioenergy in the form of pellets.

Therefore, considering the whole long-term picture of trees and forests, the story of carbon capture starts when trees absorb CO2, store it, and give out oxygen. Since woodlands naturally sequester carbon, they are often referred to as the lungs of the Earth. That is why we need to ensure the proper management of forests, to be able to use the timber as building materials that lock up carbon into our buildings, in this way, reducing the carbon footprint of the buildings, by using timber that has sequestered carbon.

A relevant part of the management of forests is the sustainable certifications, which we mention below.

Sustainable Certifications

FSC®

The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profitable organization that promotes the responsible management of forests and has developed ten principles that apply around the world. The inspections are carried out by independent organisations accredited by FSC and the kind of things they are looking at are:

Principle 1: Compliance with laws, regulations and nationally-ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements.

Principle 2: Maintenance and enhancement of workers rights and employment conditions to ensure their social and economic well-being.

Principle 3: Identifying indigenous people rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.

Principle 4: The social and economic well-being of local communities.

Principle 5: The efficient management of environmental and social benefits and the range of multiple products and services to maintain or enhance long-term economic viability.

Principle 6: Maintenance, conservation and restoration of the ecosystem and environment, avoiding, repairing or mitigating environmental impacts.

Principle 7: Having a management plan consistent with policies and objectives, proportionate to the scale, intensity and risks of management activities.

Principle 8: Monitor and assessment of the progress towards achieving the management objectives, the impacts of management activities and the condition of the Management Unit, proportionate to the scale, intensity and risk of management activities.

Principle 9: High conservation values in the Management Unit through applying the precautionary approach.
Principle 10: Implementation of management activities consistent with the organization’s objectives and its economic, environmental and social policies in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively.

FSC is respected throughout the industry in the certification process and applies to many different products, not only to timber and trees themselves, but it is a chain of custody in the invoicing chain. The FSC certification chain supports all elements within the supply chain from the people who plant the trees, to the lumberjacks, harvesters, distributors, until it reaches the client. For the same reason, FSC can be expensive and time-consuming.

There are other certifications like:

PEFC

It is an FSC alternative with a lower cost, the certification system of choice for smaller mills or forests. It also promotes sustainable forest management but is more focused on the ethics of processing timber.

Greenguard

Certifies products with low chemical emissions and aims to reduce indoor air pollution.

Cradle to Cradle

Assess the environmental and social performance in five categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon emissions, water and soil stewardship and social fairness.

Floor Score

It looks after the indoor air quality, measuring the levels of 35 specific volatile organic compounds.

EU Ecolabel

It looks at the carbon emissions and environmental impacts throughout the lifecycle of the products.

These schemes are reliable gages to specific environmental impacts of the products when specifying and sourcing.

Get in touch if you have any further questions!

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