domingo, 10 de maio de 2009

Is Paper bad for the environment?

It is a prejudice the idea that paper is bad for the environment. In fact, the pulp and paper industry is one of the few that makes really sustainable products. The exception is coming from countries not yet commited to protect their forest resources, but they are decreasing. This is not the case in Europe were the forest area is increasing each year.

The rate of replanted trees in good managed forests are three to four times more than the cutting pace. This means that the forests are growing and also renewed by young trees which absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere then older trees. Beeing paper a wood product it will store carbon with its lifetime.

In adition, most of the forests are certified by independent and non profit organizations.


Two of the most known entities that certifies that paper used is coming from sustainable forests are:

- the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and

- the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

According to FSC, "the amount of carbon stored in products is increasing by about 540 million tons of CO2 per year".

FSC "provides global standards for forest management which cover a balance of environmental, social and economic aspects. The wellbeing of forest communities and ecosystems is as important as replacing trees in ensuring the future of the world’s forests. The FSC system also provides a way of tracking forest products through independently verified Chain of Custody certification. This has to cover every stage in processing, conversion, distribution and printing before the final product can carry the FSC label".

The PEFC Council (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) "provides an assurance mechanism to purchasers of wood and paper products that they are promoting the sustainable management of forests".

With this background we can say that paper industries contribute positively to forest sustainability and that paper is a fully renewable and sustainable resource. Paper is not bad for the environment and on the contrary it can contribute to save the planet from climate change, contributing also to the conservation of biodiversity as well as of soil and water resources. According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 (1) "the world´s forest ecosystems are estimated to store more carbon than the entire atmosphere".
Social responsibility is also refered in some places, with "projects that help the poor farmers in the regions where we have plantations, for instance allowing them to graze their cattle in our forests and providing them with technology and finance to help them become sustainable" (2).

References

(1) Global Forest Resources Asssessment2005, Progress Towards Sustainable Forest Management, Food & Agriculture Organization, 2006


(2) Paper 2.0; http://generationwiki.blogspot.com/2009/01/paper-20.html

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