Climate Change

Climate change represents an important focus individuals and businesses will have for decades to come as the world addresses a buildup of greenhouse gasses.

In Minnesota, both the forest products industry and the forests themselves are doing much to help improve the atmosphere.

Trees and forest products can positively impact climate change.

While the term "climate change" is still fairly new (some are more familiar with the term "global warming"), it represents an important focus individuals and businesses will have for decades to come as the world addresses a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


Learn More About Carbon

Carbon is a naturally occurring element. It is also part of carbon dioxide (CO2), an odorless gas that is produced in a variety of ways. We exhale carbon dioxide when we breathe. Carbon is emitted when fossil fuels are burned for energy. Vehicles and factories can also release it into the atmosphere.

While carbon dioxide is necessary for plants to generate oxygen, too much carbon dioxide in the air is believed to contribute to climate change.

The process of storing carbon, called sequestration, is a natural product of tree growth. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere in their leaves, roots and wood fiber, and release oxygen in the same process. Trees also continue to store that carbon.

Because of their faster growth rate and higher overall "metabolism," young trees soak up and store carbon quickly. As these young trees age and "get filled up" with carbon, they continue to absorb and store it, but at a slower rate.

All the good that comes from storing carbon in trees goes away if over-mature trees decay and die, or if they're burned in forest fires. In either case, the carbon that had been stored is released back into the atmosphere.

When a tree is harvested for use as a forest products, rather than decaying or burning, that table or fence or 2-by-4 continues to store carbon for decades even centuries. Think of the framing inside a house built in the 1800s - it's still storing carbon, even though the tree was harvested long ago. Forest products store more than 3 billion tons of carbon globally.

When trees are harvested for use as forest products, they leave behind room for new trees to grow. Thus, this renewable resource begins again the process of absorbing carbon quickly in young trees.

Forest products industry facilities use high amounts of biomass for energy, displacing the use of fossil fuels. In fact, each year Minnesota's forest products facilities use 1.2 million tons of biomass - bark, wood residuals and other parts of trees not used in the making of products - to generate electricity, process heat and process steam.

Overall, 28% of the electricity used by the forest products industry is self-generated and renewable: 24% wood waste and 4% hydroelectricity.

Working Forests

Working Forests = Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, and a Healthy Climate

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Timber Harvest & Carbon

From US Department of Agriculture, Office of Sustainability and Climate

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Forest Carbon Management Bibliography

A compilation of papers and studies on Forests and Climate Change

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