Sustainably managed forests and PEFC certification: The missing link in the fight against climate change

In our latest webinar, we explored how wooden furniture can store carbon and be a part of the solution on our long road towards fighting climate change and net-zero carbon.

Sustainably managed forests and PEFC certification: The missing link in the fight against climate change

14 September 2022 Blog

In our latest webinar, we explored how wooden furniture can store carbon and be a part of the solution on our long road towards fighting climate change and net-zero carbon.  

We were delighted to welcome participants from 46 countries for our latest webinar “How the wooden furniture you design, make and sell stores carbon and fights climate change” on 7 September. 

Did you miss the webinar, or would like to watch it again? Check out the recording, presentations and agenda below

Presentation from Michael Berger 3.88 MB
Presentation from Francesco Negro 1.74 MB
Webinar Agenda 1.37 MB

The attendees came from a diverse range of backgrounds, including academics, furniture industry professionals, and representatives from governments and NGOs. The webinar provided an in-depth look at the role that wood plays in storing carbon, and how PEFC certification could be the ‘missing link’ to connect consumers and furniture companies to achieve sustainability in the furniture supply chain. 

The Missing Link

On the one hand, we have regulators, consumers, and retailers who are looking to purchase carbon-neutral products. On the other hand, we have forests, which have huge carbon storage potential and deliver a wonderful product. The tree and the wood it produces. By default it is carbon neutral.

But what’s the missing link?

How do we get this wood from the forest to the consumer looking for carbon neutral materials? These were the opening remarks of Thorsten Arndt, PEFC International Head of Communications and the moderator for the event, before the presentation began.

Thorsten introduced Michael Berger, PEFC International CEO, who elaborated on the role that PEFC can play in protecting forests, safeguarding their capacity to act as carbon sinks, and connecting the links throughout the furniture supply chain to ensure sustainability and fight climate change.

Products made of wood can only be a climate change solution if they originate from sustainably-managed forests. Michael Berger

Michael stressed the urgent need for the sustainable management of forests with reference to the furniture supply chain, in the context of recent extreme climate events and the dramatic increase in the demand for timber in the next few decades (which is expected to triple by 2050). Forests must be managed sustainably in order to realise their full potential as sinks for carbon, and act as a bulwark against climate change. PEFC is in a unique position to form the ‘missing link’ in the sustainability of the furniture supply chain by:

  1. Contributing to the development of forest management concepts, standards, and ways to manage forests.
  2. Working directly with stakeholders in the supply chain - how to trace material, how to ensure that material from sustainably managed forests is used in products.
  3. Providing tools for communication to consumers and producers in the supply chain that they are purchasing or using sustainably sourced materials.

Michael concluded by suggesting that,“Certification at the end of such a process is actually a promise to the consumer, to the society, to the forest, to the globe, to the universe, that furniture products have a sustainable origin and that we can use them in a responsible way in our daily lives.”

Wooden furniture can contribute considerably in the race to net zero

Next we heard from Francesco Negro, Assistant Professor in Wood Technology at the Department of Agriculture, Forest and Food science at the University of Torino.

Franceso told us that approximately 50% of the weight of wood consists of stored carbon and explained methods for calculating carbon storage. He continued by suggesting that PEFC certification could aid forests to maintain and even increase their capacity to store carbon, with specific reference to PEFC standards. 

There is already strong evidence that sustainably managed forests store more carbon compared to non-managed forests. Francesco Negro

Giving us a real-world example, Francesco cited his own research regarding the carbon sequestration potential of an apartment in Northern Italy. In his study, he discovered that an apartment furnished mostly with wood could store over 3500kg of carbon, and even in a conservative scenario, the apartment may store 40 kg of carbon per square metre. Touching on the cascading use of wood, if that wood is reused, recycled, or repurposed, it could continue to store carbon for many more decades or as long as the product exists. 

Francesco concluded by noting that opportunities existed for furniture companies who could prove and display the amount of carbon that was stored in the furniture they make and sell. 

To companies, carbon storage in wooden furniture is relevant for ethical and marketing reasons. Nowadays consumers are more and more attentive to greener products, and highlighting the carbon storage in wood-based furniture can help provide a greener image of the company. 

The fight doesn't stop here

Every single person on earth will bear the cost of climate change, and the furniture industry can and must play a sustained leading role for the future of our forests and our planet. The webinar is just an opening chapter to a bigger project that PEFC is embarking on next year in collaboration with Dr Francesco Negro. Find out more: https://forms.gle/XUAQTdeN2UZeriif6 

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