U.S. researchers say harvesting forests for wood products could quadruple the amount of carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere in 100 years.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, but rather than just letting the forest sit there for 100 or more years, harvesting regularly and using the wood in place of steel and concrete that devour fossil fuels during manufacturing could significantly lessen atmospheric CO2, University of Washington researchers said.
“Every time you see a wood building, it’s a storehouse of carbon from the forest. When you see steel or concrete, you’re seeing the emissions of carbon dioxide that had to go into the atmosphere for those structures to go up,” Bruce Lippke, a professor of forests resources, said.
Sustainably managed forests are essentially carbon neutral, researchers say. The gas trees absorb while growing eventually goes back to the atmosphere when, for example, a tree falls in the forest and decays, trees burn in a wildfire or a wood product goes to a landfill and rots.
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