The Forest Products Sector Carbon Bill – HB 2528 – is landmark legislation that recognizes the critical role the entire forest products sector plays in addressing climate change. The bill, signed into law on March 25th, 2020, distinguishes the private forestry sector as one of the most effective and natural ways to remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere, sequestering 12% of the state’s carbon emission annually.
Sustainably managed forests provide a renewable timber supply of wood-based goods that retain the stored carbon throughout the life of the wood product. The Forest Products Sector Carbon Bill acknowledges that an intact and synergistic forest products sector is vital for forestland owners to continue the rotational cycle of carbon capture and sequestration in growing trees.
University of Washington science describes the role of private working forests in Washington state in mitigating global warming. The results are the total benefit on global warming of wood products and net forest growth (after harvesting) in private forests is about 13% in 2015.
Scientists, researchers, environmental organizations and working foresters alike recognize that trees are a natural solution to climate change and working forests are an effective way to sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In fact, 48 CEOS representing forestry, conservation and environmental organizations recently signed on to a set of principles that recognize the important role sustainably managed forests and forest products can play in mitigating climate change. Included in the group are the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Foresters work with state agencies, biologists and the community to help safeguard wildlife. Sustainably managed forestlands provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, water quality protection and other natural resource benefits. In fact, private forestland owners in Washington have led the way in fish habitat restoration, opening more than 5,200 miles of fish waterways by removing or replacing 7,900 stream blockages, and are on pace to meet their goal of removing all fish barriers on private lands by the end of 2021.
Selected harvests and thinning are critical to managing forestlands, promoting healthy forests that are more resilient to wildfire, disease and infestations. In addition, sustainably managed forests provide wildlife habitat, recreational space and are integral to maintaining air and water quality.
Virtually every inch of a harvested is used to make lumber, cross-laminated timber and other durable wood products. In addition, wood shavings, branches and other tree residuals are used to make paper, medicine, ingredients in food, cosmetics, renewable fuel and other products that consumers use and rely on every day.
Washington state has an ambitious goal of reducing 95% of its carbon emissions by 2050. To do that requires a multi-faceted approach because there’s not just one solution to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The forestry industry plays a critical part of the climate solution. Trees are the most natural way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and a robust forestry industry ensures a continuous cycle of planting, harvesting and replanting to maintain the carbon cycle.
The manufacturing of concrete and steel is energy-intensive and primarily powered by fossil fuels. The manufacturing of wood-based building materials, on the other hand, is considerably less carbon intensive and results in far fewer carbon emissions. And unlike concrete and steel, wood grows naturally and is a renewable resource.
Managed forests and wood products are a naturally occurring part of the solution to address goals for reducing carbon emissions by storing carbon in the forest and wood products. Scientific research has demonstrated that forests provide environmental values, including removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that non-forested landscapes cannot.