Eco-costs calculations on wood

Wood in the Idemat tables is “four sides sawn timber” (not planed), are based on 7 issues :

  1. the effect of foresting on global carbon sequestration (Vogtlander et al, 2014)
  2. the local effect on biodiversity for FSC wood (RIL with rotation), in contrast to illegal logging in tropical rainforests
  3. the eco-burden of forest management
  4. logging, four sides sawing and kiln drying (to 10 – 12% DM (dry matter), see Fig 6.1a.
  5. the issue of allocation between timber and its byproducts (paper pulp, biofuel, the bark, chips, saw dust)
  6. scenarios on transport (forest -> sawmill -> dispatch harbor  -> Rotterdam)

Issue 1. The effect of foresting on global carbon sequestration

The effect of foresting on global carbon sequestration is rather complex, and not easy to understand. The first remark is that the carbon that is captured in wood (and products like paper, food and biodegradable plastics) is regarded to belong to the short-term carbon cycle (in contrast to the long-term carbon cycles of fossil fuels). Hence the contribution to carbon sequestration is set to zero by the IPCC since 2007 to avoid all kinds of miscalculations. The basic idea is that the carbon that is stored in logged trees will return in the atmosphere eventually. “Eventually” is defined in LCA by a maximum life time of 100 years for wooden products, since it is the most used time span in LCA for the calculation of the midpoint table for carbon footprint. For LCAs of products, the consequences of this approach of ‘carbon neutrality’ of ‘biogenic carbon’  for wood and bioplastics is given at (Biotechnology Industry org, 2010). For wood in buildings that last longer than 100 years, the carbon stored in the wood must be taken into account.
Under the condition of rotational forest management, the total boreal forest area is


in “steady state” (overall, the total carbon sequestration in a forest area is kept constant), which holds not only for PEFC wood (basically nearly all European wood is PEFC) but also for FSC wood from tropical areas. So for this type of wood, there is neither carbon footprint credit, nor debit in LCA. This complex issue is dealt with in (Vogtlander et al, 2014).