Growing trees capture carbon dioxide from the air. The more trees there are in a forest, the more carbon molecules are stored in the forest. These molecules are released back into the atmosphere in connection with felling, wood processing, decaying, and burning. Forest management and wood processing procedures, such as seedling production and tilling, also consume energy and release impurities and nutrients to the soil, air, and water. The environmental impacts of wood are a combination of these factors.

Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Luke
Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Luke.

To mitigate climate change it is important to be able to measure the effect of human activity on the environment and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to humans.

Life cycle assessment of wood products

The Natural Resources Institute Finland’s know-how in forest cultivation and management is instrumental for environmental impact assessments. Information about the ecological footprints of wood products is produced by incorporating the effects of forest cultivation into the life cycle models of wood product manufacturing and use.  The data are used by both manufacturers and consumers. The information is also useful for decision-makers who need reliable and comparable data on the effect of the use of wood products on our environment.

 

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Stages of the life cycle of buildings according to the EN 15804 standard. The diagram shows the different stages of a building’s life cycle. The environmental impacts of the use of wood in each stage are studied separately, after which the impacts are added up across the whole life cycle. This enables the environmental impacts of the use of wood to be compared against other materials. Life cycle assessments are an important tool for comparing different solutions in a circular economy.

Picture on top of the page: Tarmo Räty, Luke