Well Managed Forests Bring Multiple Benefits to Society
A well-managed forest can have multiple benefits for society. These benefits can include ecosystem services, biodiversity and livelihoods. European forests, from where the region’s paper mills source over 90% of their wood fibre, have been growing by an area equivalent to 1,500 football pitches every day. Over 60% of this area is certified to FSC® or PEFC™ standards thanks, in part, to the support of the print and paper industry.
A new study has also found that forests could have the potential to boost rainfall. The study carried out by Nature Geoscience, has discovered that the conversion of agricultural land to forest can boost summer months’ rainfall by up to 7.6% (Nature Geoscience, 2021). An explicit explanation behind this correlation is unclear, however, it is believed to have links to forest interactivity with cloudy air.
Benefits of rainfall
Rain is not always bad news. Due to climate change over the recent years, a reasonable amount of precipitation is crucial to forests as it is required in order for ecosystems to maintain growth and provide resources for people and production.
For instance, a well-maintained forest can provide wood products, renewable energy, natural carbon capture, and other ecosystem services such as controlling floods and droughts. (EEA, European Forest Ecosystems – State and Trends, 2016) It can also house habitats for 80% of amphibian species, 75% of bird species, and 68% of mammal species. (FAO, The State of the Worlds Forests, 2020)
Forests are still growing
Across Europe, forests have been growing at an incredible rate of 1,500 football pitches every day (FAO,2020). The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that the UK is aiming to plant 30 million new tree’s every year by 2025 (BBC, 2021). In Europe, an area larger than Switzerland is peppered with trees already.
The print and paper industry recognise that healthy forests are essential for the production of paper and paper-based products. This is why forest certification schemes are ingrained in the way the industry works, to ensure the raw material of wood fibre is sourced from sustainable forests. In Europe, the two most recognised certification schemes are the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™).
Both the FSC® and PEFC™ schemes have similar objectives: the certification of forests to credible, independently verified standards of responsible forest management, conserving the natural habitats of plants and animals and respecting the rights of forestry workers and local communities. Both PEFC™ and FSC® operate a robust chain of custody schemes that track wood and wood fibre through every step of the supply chain, from the forest to the end-user.
Forests and paper
Forests cover 202,150 million hectares in Europe, where European paper mills source 90% of their raw material (Cepi, 2018). 74% of wood and 90% of pulp purchased by the European pulp and paper industry is FSC or PEFC certified, meaning the industry strives to operate in a sustainable way and ensure the long-term growth of forests. (Cepi, 2018)
So not only are forests aiding in the sustainable production of paper-based products, but they can also help fight climate change.