Various Uses of Wood Determine Emissions from Deforestation

The volume of greenhouse gases released when a forest is cleared depends on how how the trees are used and in which part of the world the trees are grown, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis. Analyzing how 160 countries use wood from cleared forests, the researchers found that if the wood is generally used to create solid wood products, such as timber for housing, up to 62 percent of the carbon in the trees remains in storage. Temperate forests in the U.S., Canada, and Europe are cleared primarily for use in such products. But the study found that wood from tropical forests in places like Brazil and Indonesia is generally used in paper, pulp, and bioenergy production, and such uses lead to an almost complete release of the carbon stored in trees. Reporting in the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers said that early studies assumed that most of the carbon stored in trees was released once they were felled. The new study, however, gives a more nuanced picture of carbon releases from deforestation.