Forests and the Climate Challenge
Forests cover around 30% of the Earth’s land surface, storing approximately 638 gigatonnes of carbon. This is more that the total amount of carbon in the entire atmosphere. Sustainable forest management and the wise use of forest products are currently the most practical ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere at scale and at low cost.
However, forests are disappearing at a rate of over 13 million hectares per annum while the demand for wood, fiber, fuel, and food is increasing. In addition to preserving primary natural forests, it will be necessary to expand natural forests under sustainable management. Meeting the increased demand means increasing the amount of planted forest in degraded areas by around 400 million hectares.
Forests as Carbon Sinks
WBCSD works with member companies in the forest products value chain, from pulp and plantation businesses to the users of forest products and suppliers to the sector. These companies are committed to ending deforestation and eliminating illegal wood from supply chains. By protecting forests we prevent millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere and by expanding the area of forested land we create new carbon sinks and provide other valuable ecosystem services.
Forest Products and the Bio-economy
Forest products are key to making the transition to a more resource efficient society. Harvesting forest-based products sequesters carbon at the rate of 189 million tons per year (across a variety of time scales, according to the different products and applications).