The Forest Product Industries are potentially among the most sustainable and valued industry sectors, providing a broad myriad of products. Products include fibers for textiles and tissue and towel consumer products, such as diapers, chemicals useful in many applications, as well as the vastly important paper, paperboard, timber and fuel that humans have depended on for millennia . Forests are critical ecosystems that sustain much of natures biodiversity, provide recreation and joy, and are the most important natural consumer of atmospheric CO2. Preservation and extension of forest biomass is a critical factor in controlling global warming. In many regions forest biomass growth actually exceeds forestry industry use. In some key regions, such as in much of the world's rain forests, deforestation is accelerating, though generally not because of the activities of the Forest Products Industries. This section will explore the impacts and potential for Responsible Sustainability of the Forest Products Industries, as well as some of the many other factors impacting deforestation and forest ecosystems.
Forest Products Industries - Facts, Figures, impacts, potential
In the United States, the forest products industry:
- Employs 950,000 workers and pays approximately $4.4 billion a year in state and local taxes
- Generates 4% of U.S. manufacturing GDP, on par with plastics and automotive
- Is the leading generator and user of renewable energy
- Recovered 67.2% of paper consumed in 2016
- The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states.
- Deforestation has been a part of the human experience since ancient times. It is estimated that 90% of the original North American forest has been lost, mostly to farmland and secondary growth. Today, however, most North American and European countries are areas of net forest growth. About 31% of Earth's land surface remains covered by forests in various states of health
- According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation in modern times has been agriculture. More recently industrial activities, including extractive industries, large-scale cattle ranching, and extensive corporate agriculture, have driven deforestation in many locations. Ever more intense wildfires are also an increasing factor. Since 2001, commodity-driven deforestation, which is more likely to be permanent, has accounted for about a quarter of all forest disturbance, and this loss has been concentrated in South America, and Southeast Asia.
- In 2019, it is estimated that the world lost nearly 12 million hectares of tree cover. Nearly a third of that loss, 3.8 million hectares, occurred within humid tropical primary forests, areas of mature rainforest that are especially important for biodiversity and carbon storage
- Major forest products industry players generally now support certification efforts that require that wood can only be harvested from forests managed to meet specific criteria, to insure healthy and environmentally stable forests, though not always original ecosystem compliant, as in the case of plantation forests.
- Certified forests represent about 11% of all worldwide forest area, with most of the certified forest being in the northern hemisphere.
- Old Growth protection and forest protection in general still remains of critical concern on a worldwide basis, with overall outcomes still subject to often unchecked profit and population pressures
ARS research Highlights - Forest Industries and Responsible Sustainability
- Enhanced Recycling of Plastic Coated Paperboards - ARS is developing a Call for Proposals for improved understanding and development of materials and processes to increase recycling of single use plastic coated paperboards. See link provided for details. Status: Being Drafted by ARS.
ARS Policy Developments/Highlights - Forest Industries and Responsible Sustainability
Features and Opinions - Invited and Submitted Discussions
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