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Responsible consumption of forest products

By: Juan Carlos Flores Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Head of the Forestry Unit of the Department of Environment and Development

Promoting the consumption of forest products from sustainable sources is one of the best alternatives to achieve the development of our societies. Wood is the most ecologically raw material. It is a natural product that does not require industrial processes during the stages of cultivation, maintenance, and harvest. Under responsible management, significant environmental impacts are generated until product transformation.

The natural origin of the wood makes it an easily recyclable product. It does not require sophisticated industrial processes for its conversion into boards, paper pulp, sawdust, biomass, among others. In addition, it is biodegradable, which reduces the problems of contamination of soil, water, and atmosphere.

Consuming forest products contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. During their growth, forests and plantations fix CO2, which is stored in the wood. When used and transformed into furniture, this carbon is stored during the useful life of the furniture.

When comparing carbon emissions, wood has negative net emissions. This means that more carbon is fixed in the wood than is emitted during its production and transformation process. As a reference, one cubic meter of wood fixes 900 kg of CO2, while one cubic meter of rigid PVC emits 5,000 kg of CO2 and one cubic meter of aluminum means 26,000 kg of CO2. Even with recycled materials, such as recycled steel, wood has lower CO2 emissions.

As a leading university in agricultural and environmental issues, Zamorano in November 2018 obtained the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certification that allows it to join the institutions that promote the purchase and responsible consumption of certified forest products.

The FSC was created to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. It seeks to ensure that companies along the supply chain also meet best practice standards so that when a product carries the FSC logo, one can be sure that it has been made from sustainable sources.

Zamorano’s commitment to protecting the environment means that the institution is likewise committed to encouraging the consumption of paper, cardboard, and wood from certified forests or forest plantations. This guarantees that the materials come from sources that are managed under international standards that promote sustainability.

The FSC certificate guarantees that forest production respects principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability. Zamorano’s actions in promoting its use help to ensure that the laws and regulations governing forestry are respected.

In addition, this stance contributes to respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equity and the elimination of child labor. It supports processes to improve the social and economic well-being of forest company workers and their communities and guarantees the conservation of forest ecosystem services.

All of these actions contribute to the achievement of several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDS), set by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): 1 – End Poverty, 5 – Gender Equality, 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10 – Reduction of Inequalities, 12 – Responsible Production and Consumption, 13 – Climate Action and 15 – Life of Terrestrial Ecosystems.

Zamorano is also in the process of certifying its production processes. The University expects that by the end of the year it will have certified the forest management of its productive forests and forest plantations, as well as the chain of custody to produce furniture, pine resin, liquidambar balsam, charcoal, and water. In this way, Zamorano’s forest products will be recognized for the good practices that the institution already carries out and promotes.

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