How working forests keep excess carbon out of the air we breathe.

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Policymakers have focused on lowering emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from automobiles and the transportation sector during the past decade to address global warming. But, surprisingly, the building sector is responsible for nearly half of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Wood is a proven means of putting the brakes on this trend.

Grown by the sun and nature, wood has a lower carbon footprint than other building materials such as concrete and steel. By using less energy-intensive materials, we can lower our carbon emissions and help address threats from global warming.

Wood products naturally store carbon

Healthy, growing trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, store carbon in tree biomass and release oxygen back into the air.  When sustainably harvested, the wood continues to store carbon in lumber and other wood products.  This makes wood an eco-friendly and economical building material.

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“The challenge is to strike a balance in how we meet the building needs of a growing population and being stewards of the land and our environment,” says Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association. “The use of wood is a responsible choice for meeting those needs.”  The WFPA trade association represents private forest landowners who grow, harvest and regrow trees on about 4 million acres of working forests in our state.

Responsibly managed forests absorb carbon dioxide

Oregon and Washington produce 30 percent of the nation’s softwood lumber. Together, forests and harvested wood products absorb and store about 25 percent of the region’s total emissions. Additionally, Pacific Coast forests provide 39 percent of all carbon storage in the U.S., the highest average carbon storage per acre in the United States.

Sustainable forestry increases carbon dioxide absorption from the atmosphere as a result of a continuous cycle of planting, growing and harvesting trees. Responsibly managed forests provide clean drinking water, a healthy climate, wildlife habitat and green jobs in rural economies.

Environmental groups and the building industry have come to understand that sustainable forestry is a viable solution for cleansing the air we breathe and responding to threats from climate change.

The forests in Washington that are producing wood for lumber adhere to strong forestry laws and third-party certified standards of sustainable forestry. This is important in fostering the eco-friendly way this building material is produced. Trees are grown with only natural fuel: sun, rain and soil, resulting in a lower carbon footprint than other building materials.

The Washington Forest Protection Association is a trade association representing private forest landowners in Washington State. Members are large and small companies, individuals and families who grow, harvest and re-grow trees on about 4 million acres.