Industry hopes to unlock the carbon dollars in lumber

31 May 2011

The international forestry and wood products industry is working on the detail of a proposal to have the carbon in wood products recognised in international carbon accounting rules.

Under the Kyoto Protocol which expires at the end of 2012, harvested logs are deemed to be converted to carbon dioxide at the moment of harvest – a rule that fails to recognise the carbon that is locked up in wood and paper products, often for many decades.

FOA chief executive David Rhodes says New Zealand and Australia have been lobbying with considerable success at successive United Nations climate change negotiations to have better forestry rules included in whatever replaces Kyoto.

Details of how those rules might look and how to get them adopted at the United Nations climate change negotiations in Durban at the end of the year were major topics at a meeting held in Montebello, Canada, last week.

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations’ (ICFPA) meeting was held in conjunction with the UN FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products. The FAO will soon complete a major report on the important role sustainable forestry will play in the creation of low-carbon economies.

Mr Rhodes, who is a member of both bodies, says forestry waste and tree crops grown specifically for fuel will be increasingly important sources of renewable energy. Indeed, renewable energy products have the potential to be a new income stream for the pulp and paper industry as it comes out of recession.

Following a roundtable meeting of forest industry CEOs from around the world, co-chair Brad Thorlakson said the wood processing industry was now more competitive and “significantly transformed” in the wake of the global economic downturn. There has also been increased globalisation of trade, the emergence of new markets and a movement toward greatly improved environmental performance.

“These are key factors that have led to a return to strength of the industry’s core product lines of pulp, paper and lumber.”

At the ICFPA meeting Mr Rhodes profiled efforts by the New Zealand Paper Forum which concurrently launched a stewardship scheme to position paper as a renewable product of choice.

Forum members include major NZ manufacturers and distributors of paper and paper products, print companies and associated groups. The scheme involves measuring and benchmarking recovery and recycling rates; developing a best practice guide for the sector; and educating buyers and users of paper in good environmental practice.

He says the presentation attracted strong interest from India, China, Europe, Chile, Canada and a number of other countries.


The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations’ (ICFPA) membership includes the trade associations of 43 countries. Members represent industries accounting for more than 90 percent of the world’s paper and more than 50 percent of the world’s wood production.  

The ICFPA is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to working with other stakeholders to ensure that environmental, social and economic benefits of our natural resources are available to current and future generations. ICFPA Members are committed to legal, certified forestry and procurement practices.

The global forest products industry contributes more than US$ 470 billion annually to global GDP and employs over 14 million people worldwide.

For more information, please ring or email David Rhodes. He is currently travelling back to New Zealand and will be back in the office Thursday 2 June. Tel +64 27 495 5525. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.