5.12.00 - Sustainable utilization of forest products
This Research Group broadly assesses and focuses on global issues regarding sustainably produced forest products and provides a forum for researchers who study the production of wood and other forest products in a sustainable framework. Among other things this Research Group examines issues including forest certification, ecosystem services and markets, life cycle analysis from wood products in sustainably managed forests and the economic contribution of wood products to sustainable forestry.
State of Knowledge
Info on ecosystem services, forest certification, life cycle analysis of forest products and sustainable forest management. Research on life cycle analysis (LCA) studies along the whole supply chain to understand and quantify environmental impacts and to avoid possible negative effects of increasing wood use as an energy source instead of as a building product. LCA studies have focused on extending system boundaries to better capture the environmental impacts of wood leaving the forest for forest production.
This Research Group will broadly assess the role of certified forest products and services and how ecosystem services and markets can better connect people with forests. Forest certification provides an independent assurance that the quality of management conforms to specified standards, and forest certification reassures the public that forest products and services can be sustainably produced. The certified forest products and services working party will assess different aspects of forest certification including impacts of forest management and timber markets, impact on international timber trade, and the effects of forest certification on forest communities and the people who live and work in these forests.
The key knowledge gaps include understanding the connection between certified forest products and services and the role of forest certification for improving the livelihood of people. This working party will broadly assess how forest certification and environmental performance of forest products can be used to assure that forest products are being sustainably utilized and that ecosystem services are integrated into a framework of forest management. Also knowledge gaps include temporal and spatial aspects including air quality indicators, fate and transport modeling (e.g., soil carbon ), and circular economy (cascade use) to cover GHG emissions fluxes along the whole supply, merging LCA with other decision support tools, developing protocols for continuous inventorying product LCA data, capturing land-use changes (direct and indirect) along other forest sustainability criteria metrics, landscape carbon integration including wildfire dynamics to wood products and bioenergy LCA, and linking LCA outcomes with carbon cycle calculation.
Ecosystem services and certified forest products are increasingly recognized as a critical contributor of sustainable forest management.
Ecosystem services provide a framework for describing the comprehensive set of benefits and costs that people receive from forest ecosystems. Forest certification is a process and an independent assurance that the quality of management conforms to specified standards and links the demand for forest products to environmental standards for producers. This working party will assess different aspects of forest certification including impacts on forest management and timber markets; impact to international timber trade; effects on forest workers and communities affected by forest certification; quality of certification audits; governance and authority of certification schemes. The group will also investigate the role that ecosystem services valuation, accounting and markets play for improving the livelihood of people including economic contributions, human health, ecological and social benefits of forests, and how these services relate to traditional forest products, water quality and quantity, wetland and species conservation banking. This working party will broadly assess how forest certification and the environmental performance of forest products can be used to both assure that forest products are being sustainably utilized and that the ecosystem services are integrated into a framework of sustainable forest management.
Concern about the environment and global warming is increasing and leading many to consider the environmental performance of wood and non-wood materials. Given this increased concern about the environmental performance of materials, it is important to be able to compare the performance of wood and non-wood materials. The life cycle assessment (LCA) method is an unbiased and holistic approach for quantifying and comparing the environmental performance of different materials across an important array of environmental performance indicators, including: global warming, ozone depletion, eutrophication, air quality indicators, and local health impact indicators. LCA can be used in conjunction with other methods such as forest ecosystem modelling, (forest) carbon accounting, and risk assessment to more fully assess products’ impact on the environment. LCA results are used for comparative purposes, acquiring credit under green building schemes, and developing credible and transparent product eco-labels.