22 November, 2018
Forestry: A Climate Friendly Industry
is a carbon-neutral industry and the
International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- the body of scientists who are leading the
world's assessment of the climate change
challenge - advises countries to extend
their total area under afforestation.
its Fifth Assessment Report, which is its
latest, the IPCC lists sustainable
agriculture and forestry as examples of
activities beneficial for the mitigation of
and adaptation to climate change.
Other activities in the same category
include energy efficiency and cleaner energy
sources, the greening of cities and
plantations absorb considerably more carbon
dioxide than the grasslands they replace in
South Africa, says Iain Kerr of the
University of KwaZulu-Natal's (UKZN)
chemical engineering department.
emissions generated by the forestry industry
are largely due to the use of fossil fuels.
These are offset by the carbon sequestration
capacity of trees grown and the carbon
stored in harvested wood products.
absorb considerable amounts of carbon while
they are growing, but none when they are
mature. This is why the sustainable
harvesting of fully grown trees, and
replacing them by replanting, helps to
sequester more carbon than leaving mature
trees in place, Iain says.
timber harvested from sustainable
forests is the most climate-friendly
option for utility poles, needed to
provide electricity in Africa, as the
timber is considered carbon neutral.
timber is used as construction timber or
utility poles, the carbon it contains is
sequestered for the lifespan of these
products. Treated timber harvested from
sustainable forests is the most
climate-friendly option for utility poles,
needed to provide electricity in Africa, as
the timber is considered carbon neutral.
contrast, says website www.forestryexplained.co.za,
the production of both concrete and
aluminium releases large amounts of carbon
into the atmosphere.
Paper Manufacturers' Association of South
Africa (PAMSA) has appealed to the South
African government to include forestry's
carbon sequestration capacity into its
calculations for how the planned carbon tax
would be levied on the industry. National
Treasury has agreed on such an inclusion,
subject to approval of the methodology by
the Department of Environmental Affairs.
carbon tax was expected to be levied in
January 2019 but has been delayed until 1
wooden products are excellent carbon sinks.
Paper, pulp and timber products lock in
carbon for as long as the products are in
use. If wood is eventually composted, the
process produces some carbon. However, this
is considered part of the normal life cycle
of organic material, as the carbon produced
is necessary for, and used up in, the
natural process of further vegetation
growth, observes Iain.
by MSc Engineering students in the UKNZ's
chemical engineering department shows that
one hectare of eucalyptus trees sequesters
266 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the 12
years it typically takes for the trees to
reach harvesting age, and one hectare of
pine trees absorbs 366 tonnes of carbon
dioxide over 25 years.
South Africa, the forestry and forest
product industry adds R23 billion to the
country's GDP, constituting 4.1% of
manufacturing GDP and 21.3% of agricultural
GDP, and employing about 150 000 people,
says The Paper Story, a website produced by
about 40% of photocopy paper is recycled in
South Africa. The need for improvement of
this aspect lies in waste paper collection
from households, schools and businesses.
on average, 85% of cardboard and paper
packaging is recycled, in substantial part
due to the many informal collectors of
recyclable materials. This packaging is
typically recycled seven times before ending
up in a landfill or being composted.
In an achievement that is not common
knowledge, South Africa has "among the
world's best figures for the recycling of
recoverable paper", with 70% of this paper
recycled in 2017, says Iain.
Source: Dolphin Bay Chemicals