09.03.2020

7. SDG 13 - Climate Action

How does intensified use of wood in construction affect efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, beyond the ‘obvious’?

SDG 13 is about taking action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Using wood as a construction material has well documented climate benefits, acting as a carbon sink, and reducing emissions from transport due to its light weight. However, does increased wood in construction reduce capacity to act as a carbon sink and adapt to climate change?

Hypothesis One

Intensified planting and logging of coniferous tree species used in wood construction may reduce the resilience of forests and their ability to adapt to climate change, such as sensitivity to invasive species and severe storms.

This hypothesis divided opinion amongst the experts, with 19% not knowing enough to answer. 35% agreed with the hypothesis whilst only 24% disagreed, and as such we should be cautious about drawing conclusions from this.

Perhaps a better conclusion to reach is that there is great uncertainty about the impact of intensified use of wood in construction on forests’ resilience to climate change – more research and knowledge is needed on this.

“There are good and bad forestry practices, what we choose is a matter of access to knowledge and policy”

Hypothesis Two

Intensified use of wood in the Nordic countries may contribute to a level of logging that reduces the capacity of forests to combat climate change by acting as carbon sinks.

61% of the experts disagreed with this notion, with only 11% agreeing, indicating that intensified use of wood for construction does not negative impact upon the potential of forests to mitigate against climate change by capturing and storing carbon.

It was the general view of the experts interviewed however, that this was contingent on sustainable forest management enabled through adequate policy and planning. 

“Planning and prioritizing need to make sure this will not happen. Awareness from forestry industry on methods and planning as well as developing construction for better effectiveness”

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The Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat is hosted by EIT Climate-KIC

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.