forest construction book

Wood – indispensable raw material for the planet

Throughout our history, wood has been available to humans as a versatile, sustainable and renewable raw material for the manufacture of wood products and our shelters. Nowadays, an extra component has been added and wood is perhaps even more valuable. Using wood as part of an economic bio-based development strategy can stop and even reduce global warming and other harmful climate influences caused by human activities.

The majority of scientists agree: man-made greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels, finite resources and energy-intensive materials contribute to global warming. To reverse this, we must immediately reduce those emissions by changing our behavior. It is becoming increasingly clear that global economic growth can only be achieved if it goes hand-in-hand with care for the environment. There is a growing need to achieve a biobased circular economy based on the use of renewable materials with a low CO₂ footprint, such as wood.

As a natural, renewable material, wood has a low-energy production and processing cycle with exceptional...
little environmental impact.

It all starts in the forest, where trees grow by converting carbon dioxide and water into nutritious sugars and oxygen with the help of sunlight. Carbon dioxide, CO₂, the main gas causing global warming, is stored for generations. Due to the reforestation policy of planting and natural regeneration pursued in Europe, the European forest area continues to expand, with positive social, economic and environmental consequences. Extraction, production, transport and use of wood from sustainably managed forests requires little energy. Innovations in processing, machining and construction technology also make it possible to use wood in increasingly technical and high-quality applications to replace man-made materials and semi-finished products. The growing awareness that today's consumer society puts pressure on the health of our planet makes increasing the use of a bio-based circular material such as wood during production and processing extra attractive. Wood can be recycled into many new products and applications and used as a renewable, CO₂-neutral energy source at the end of its life.

Low-carbon construction
The combination of the environmental qualities and performance characteristics of wood is perhaps most effective in construction. The construction sector is responsible for a significant part of CO₂ emissions. The use of wood products and wood-rich building systems are therefore the ultimate solution for a low-carbon construction method. Timber construction systems and building components
wood are energy efficient compared to other materials, during processing, production, transport and application. She
also result in extremely energy-efficient utility and residential buildings in use and maintenance.

Using the sustainability potential of wood
Wood is increasingly proving itself to be one of the most important materials within biobased and circular economic models.
Extensive life cycle assessments (LCAs) confirm the low environmental impact of wood and wood products compared to

Developments in wood technology do not stand still. Setting up advanced, industrially manufactured wood components
architects and constructors are able to build better, bigger and higher. At the same time, innovative and more environmentally friendly preservation methods, wood modification and thermal treatment options increase the natural sustainability of the raw material.

New wood composite materials are in great demand in various applications and sectors. The energy yield of renewable wood-based fuel also continues to develop.

European governments and the timber sector have jointly committed themselves to improving and guaranteeing the sustainable and legal origin of the raw material wood.

The European timber industry is therefore convinced that we are only now beginning to unlock the potential of wood.

The wood sector in Europe not only makes an environmental, but also an important economic contribution to the biobased economy. The industry consists of more than 170,000 large and small companies and employs approximately one million people. The annual contribution to the EU's gross national product is approximately €133 billion. The timber industry also clearly has the capacity and ambition to grow further and faster and play a central role in Europe's bio-economic development.


Photo: © Nathan Anderson