Improvements in the Forestry Sector

Clear signs of improvement

According to information provided by OSINFOR, the implementation of forest management plans has improved significantly between 2015 and 2018. An example is the gradual reduction of management plans with no trees declared. Thus, in 2015, 38% of supervised management plans showed non existent trees declared and in 2018 this figure decreased to only 7%.

According to the OSINFOR Management Information System (SIGOSFC), “non-existent tree” is that tree that could not be found in the field during the supervisions they carry out. In that sense, it can be said that non-existent trees are those trees falsely declared in the operational plans.

Risk-free management plans

At the same time, according to the SIGOSFC Observatory there are significant advances in risk-free management plans between 2015 and 2018. In 2015 there were 237 management plans on the Green List, a figure that reached 617 in 2018. Similarly, the existence of management plans on the red list has been declining over the years. In 2015 there were 313 management plans on the Red List, and in 2018 this figure decreased by about 50%.

Qualified management plans on the red list represent an unacceptable, significant or moderate risk for legal trade, as unauthorized use of timber forest resources has been evidenced. Risk-free management plans are those qualified on the green list for not representing any of the risks on the red list for legal commerce.

«66% of management plans are without risk which means that more than 4 million hectares of forest are under good forest management according to our monitoring results.» David Blas, Director of Forest and Wildlife Assessment, OSINFOR.

Reunited forest family

This event consisted of a working breakfast called “Contributing to building forest and wildlife governance from OSINFOR”, which had the technical support of the USAID FOREST program and the US Forest Service. Directors and officials of public and private entities, and international cooperation attended. At the same time, there was the presence of Lies Araceli Linares, Vice Minister of Environmental Management; Gonzalo Quijandría, Vice Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources (both of the Ministry of Environment); and with Paula Carrión, Deputy Minister of Agricultural Policies of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. The regional governors of Madre de Dios, Luis Hidalgo, and Ucayali, Francisco Pezo, also participated; and the forest managers of Loreto, Ucayali and Madre de Dios.

Unleashing trees in the battle against climate change

Lauren Cooper

In discussions around climate change and natural resources, one widely mentioned oversimplification is that «cutting trees is bad for the environment.» While true that global forest loss has environmental implications, sustainably managed working forests can provide impressive climate benefits in both carbon sequestration and long-term carbon storage.
Last year’s Paris Agreement of the 2015 UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) highlights standing forests as part of a strategy to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. This is important, given that tropical deforestation is one the main sources of emissions and is coupled with other climate, biodiversity and human welfare concerns.
However, issues related to forests vary dramatically by geographic region. For example, international timber from illegal sources can contribute to overall deforestation, particularly in weakly managed areas. On the other hand, the United States has not experienced (PDF) net deforestation in decades and has a robust and transparent National Forest Inventory and Assessment Program managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
In fact, U.S. forests and related wood products serve as a substantial carbon sink — the equivalent of roughly 16 percent of U.S. fossil emissions annually (PDF) — partially by storing more than 14.8 million tons of carbon per year in wood products (PDF) made from harvested trees.
Silviculture Magazine has identified three main features of working forests (defined as land already converted to rotating harvest or plantation forests): Timber production; multiple use lands (including habitat and recreation); and sustainability as an «over-arching goal and strategy.» Such working forests can be key contributors to climate change mitigation in two primary ways:
Carbon sequestration as a part of climate change mitigation; and Wood products as a sustainable renewable resource.
Working forests and carbon sequestration
Working (or «managed») forests absorb large amounts of carbon because selective harvesting encourages and maintains rapid growth. Whereas untouched forests eventually will reach a point of «carbon saturation» without natural disturbance (where carbon absorption slows because (PDF) the forest is holding near maximum levels of carbon), sustainably managed forests absorb carbon at more aggressive rates.

Well-managed working forests are sustainable, renewable natural resources that provide a climate advantage when used in longer-term wood applications such as construction (for example, beams, planks, particleboard and blown fiber).

Use of timber in buildings, bridges or other infrastructure results in a ‘substitution effect’ — avoiding emissions that would have been created by materials such as steel or cement.

Engineered wood products such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) are attracting attention because it can replace emission-intensive materials such as steel or cement. For example, the University of Washington West Campus Student Housing project stored 4,466 metric tons of CO2 in wood materials, including engineered materials, in a five-building dormitory complex.

Further, increasing the use of timber in buildings, bridges or other infrastructure also results in a «substitution effect» (PDF) — avoiding emissions that would have been created by materials such as steel or cement. While the strength of the substitution effect varies, one international study estimates that every 1 ton of wood used in construction avoids an average of 3.9 tons of CO2. A 2015 study found 30 percent more total carbon sequestration benefits over equal time from harvested and regenerated forests than forests left to grow, with more than half of those benefits coming from the substitution effect.

Linking wood use and climate targets

To reach global climate change goals, sustainable forest use must be accompanied with an overall reduction in global deforestation.

One important consideration is reducing degradation from overharvesting or transitioning natural forests to plantation land. Policies should be careful not to encourage conversion of natural forests to plantations, as natural forests generally store more carbon (PDF) overall.

Further, shifting away from natural forests results in other negative impacts such as biodiversity loss and diminished water filtration, nutrient cycling and soil control. Environmental considerations for wood products must aim achieve an optimal balance between these environmental services.

Also important is the need for a multi-level, interdisciplinary understanding of sustainable land management and harvest to achieve green growth and climate change mitigation. Academic institutions can help by sharing knowledge and facilitating communication. Business is central and should encourage continued development of their sustainability teams, as some large industry actors, such as Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, are doing.

What does it mean for business?
Working forests produce timber products that can reduce overall pollution, boost local economies, create safer materials, reduce emissions and contribute to a green economy.

For business, emerging climate policies and public opinion on sustainability are creating opportunities to rethink how timber is used and valued. These opportunities extend beyond timber-related industries and reach into architecture, planning and construction disciplines. However, education, cross-industry connections and public relations efforts are required to catalyze such linkages into action.

The biggest challenge today is in connecting the science, business and policy elements to ensure clear wins for business, consumers and the environment. In upcoming decades, the forest industry will see new market opportunities and leverage points in the center of climate policy discussions.
To be prepared, the time to explore the relationship between forests, business and climate is now.

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