09.03.2020

8. SDG 15 - Life on Land

Does using more wood in construction reduce our ability to protect and enhance forests, the services they provide, and the creatures they are home to?

The aim of SDG 15 is to protect, restore and make sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. As using wood in construction is reliant on forest resources, it is very closely linked to sustainable forest management, reversing soil degradation and halting biodiversity loss. We proposed several hypotheses to investigate further:

Hypothesis One

Intensified use of wood and increased logging does not necessarily result in poor management of natural resources, but current public policies, certification schemes and practice fall short of assuring sustainable management of forests.

 

Many of the results of this study have indicated a contingency of success on sustainable forest management, but as the clear majority of the experts agreeing with this hypothesis suggests, current policies, certifications and practices are insufficient to ensure sustainable management of forest resources.

The need for improved polices and certifications is clear, but must be done so in a holistic manner considering the whole gamut of SDGs, as some of the experts stated:

“A systems approach is needed so that conflicting policies do not arise”

“More stringent monitoring and verification processes are needed in the Nordics” 

Hypothesis Two

An increased use of wooden resources in the Nordic countries results in a threat to biodiversity, both within and beyond the Nordics.

55% disagreed with the notion that increased wood in construction can threaten biodiversity, with only 17% agreeing. This indicates that the experts believe that increased wood in construction is not a threat to biodiversity.

However, detailed answers identified biodiversity as a major challenge for the Nordic forestry sector. Practices must be improved to enhance biodiversity, not retain it at the current level, and mixed growth and non-clearing of the forest floor will be key to this. As some of the survey respondents stated:

“The forests in production show a declining biodiversity trend. This is a major challenge for sustainable use of wood.”

“This can be prevented by regulation. Regulation is necessary in a price sensitive market.”

Hypothesis Three

An increased use of wooden resources in the Nordic countries will decrease the total amount of forested area, as reforestation of clearcuts is not always effective.

 

53% of those questioned disagreed with this hypothesis, compared to only 16% agreeing, indicating that increased demand for wood in construction will not reduce the amount of forest cover in the Nordics.

Conversely, the view of the experts was that increased demand would lead to better utilisation of forest resources, and greater incentive to reforest land. As one interviewee suggested:

“Increased demand for wood in construction will potentially result in a better forest economy. This improvement must be followed by investments in strengthening sustainable forest management.”

→ Read on to the Method →

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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.