Concerns about the impact of human activities on the globe were first acknowledged and documented in the late 1800s, likely following the effects of the industrial revolution. The transition from low carbon non mechanised production to ever increasing factory-based automation allowed the human species to successfully create all manner of products on a scale unseen previously. The industrial revolution marked a turning point in history where living standards for the majority of the global population began to improve as did life expectancy which resulted in unprecedented population growth.
The concerns continued throughout the 19th century and by the early 2000’s global warming was becoming a major cause of concern. The increasing levels of CO2 and greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere by mankind were driving a rise in global temperatures. Over the last three million years the global atmospheric CO2 level has remained relatively level at an average of 240ppm (parts per million). Since the industrial revolution and as the global population has increased, CO2 levels have climbed significantly and by 2020 the highest level of CO2 in the atmosphere was recorded at 414ppm (see graph below).
Much of the increased level of CO2 emissions have been caused as a result of increasing human activity through land use changes and the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas & coal) in industry, transport and agriculture across the globe. The resulting global warming is increasing the melting of glaciers in the polar regions, and as a result sea levels are slowly rising threatening millions of people across the globe who live in low lying areas close to the sea. The impact is also felt in Arid countries and regions where rainfall is reducing and becoming less dependable; these areas are getting hotter and drier.
Global Governments started reacting to this increasing global warming threat and came together in Paris in 2015 where they agreed the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement. The UK Government committed, along with other states, to achieving Net Zero by 2050, which is a major step towards reducing net CO2 emissions through significant changes to the countries carbon footprint and a massive expansion of renewable energy sources.
Part of the UK’s drive for Net Zero is to be achieved through forestry with 10% of our CO2 production mitigated through a significant increase in woodland cover across the UK.
Forestry will play an increasingly crucial role in carbon sequestration, the process of removing or capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Lifestyle changes imposed by governments will help to reduce the amount of carbon produced going forward however, equally important to this is trying to remove the CO2 already present in the environment.
Trees, woodlands, and forests sequester CO2 naturally through photosynthesis. The process of photosynthesis is where plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create growth and oxygen. This biological process is a wonder of the natural world; as plants of all types grow, they lockup CO2 and generate oxygen. Natural forests and man-made plantation forestry across the globe sequester over one third of man-made CO2 emissions.
Governments have recognised that forestry plays an important role in achieving Net Zero. The establishment of extensive new woodland and forestry offers significant potential for the mitigation of atmospheric CO2 levels. The UK government has set targets to achieve 30,000 hectares of new planting per annum until 2050; this is through a combination of commercial forestry and native broadleaves. Crucial to the success of global forestry targets is the sustainable long-term management of woodlands and forests globally.
Unregulated global deforestation generates 10% of CO2 emissions. It is vital to stop all deforestation and ensure that the management of woodland and forests globally is undertaken on a sustainable basis.
The process of establishing and managing forests by working to strict internationally recognised standards creates sustainable timber. This sustainable product can be used in many applications and can mitigate and reduce the amount of carbon intensive products used in construction like concrete, brick, and steel. The increasing use of timber in buildings locks up carbon in a product that can last hundreds of years and will help governments achieve long term climate change targets through greater use of a sustainable product.
Euroforest and our group of companies are committed to the sustainable management and harvesting of forests and woodlands. Pryor & Rickett Silviculture (PRS) can help companies and individuals looking to mitigate their carbon footprint through voluntary offsetting opportunities and carbon emission trading. This in turn generates opportunities for landowners to create woodlands with multiple income streams. PRS can facilitate all aspects of this process from acquisition, forest design, planning and creation of new forests in both the UK & Ireland, and trade the carbon from these forests on the international market.