What is carbon storage? How does it make a difference for climate change?
Recognizing the problem
The earth is getting warmer, the sea level is rising, glaciers are melting, the circulation of water and air is thrown off balance, and drought, flooding and wind storms become more extreme and frequent… Climate change often seems like an overwhelming challenge.
The first important question is: What is actually causing climate change? A big part of climate change is the increased amount of carbon in our atmosphere. But what does carbon actually do? Too much greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide, causes too much solar radiation to reflect back to earth instead of escaping back to the universe. This leads to an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere and the surface of the earth.
What’s the solution?
Now, there are different approaches to deal with the challenge. The first one is to close your eyes and pretend not to be responsible. The mentality is that the government or someone else will deal with it. But that’s not the approach we take. We take charge to do our part and more to look after the environment we’re benefiting from. We take action to create a positive impact on our environment and take responsibility for managing our forest in an active sustainable way.
The benefits of forests
Forests provide lots of personal and public benefits. On a local level our forests provides wildlife habitat, clean water and recreational benefits to humans as well as economic values in wood products. On a larger scale our forest is an essential natural solution for climate change.
During photosynthesis, forests absorb carbon dioxide to make energy which maintains their structures and helps them to grow. The carbon is then stored in organic matter in different pools: live above ground, which are the live trees, shrubs and other plants; live below ground, like roots; deadwood, including standing dead trees and downed logs; litter like fallen leaves, needles and small branches; and soil organic matter, which means organic material, such as dead and decayed biomass (plant material and insects).
The carbon storage level, the amount of carbon that is retained in a carbon pool increases with forest age (100 year old trees), whereas carbon sequestration, the process of absorbing carbon and removing it from the atmosphere is highest in forests which are young to intermediate in age (30-70 years).
Carbon storage and sequestration
To reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere it is essential to store and sequestrate more carbon than is released. This is called carbon negative and this is what we do with our forest. The opposite, to release more carbon than can be absorbed, is called carbon positive. The minimum which has to be done is to become carbon neutral, which means that you release the same amount of carbon that you absorb.
Our forest management strategies – carbon storage
What role do we play? We manage our woodlot forest in a sustainable way.
- For 30 years we’ve exclusively select logged our woodlot, which means that we remove maximum 1% of our forest volume per year, relative to 99% of the forest volume which is growing and therefore storing carbon.
- Taking out any trees causes a temporary loss of carbon, however it gives seedlings and saplings the opportunity to grow which increases carbon sequestration. We keep a balance between large, old, slow growing trees, which have the maximum carbon storage, and small, young, fast growing trees, which have the maximum sequestration. An uneven age stand also increases the resiliency against diseases, making the forest healthier, more diverse and also allows other species to grow.
- We keep standing and laying deadwood in the forest, we don’t burn it. This creates habitats for animals from microorganisms and insects to birds and more. Decomposition also gives nutrients back to the soil.
- The soil is of special importance as a carbon pool. At Community Mill, we use specialized practices to avoid soil damage. We do most of our logging in the wintertime when ground conditions are frozen and stable. We minimize the need of new skid trails. On all the downhill parts of the skid trail we practise horse logging. This minimizes the impact on the soil as well as reduces the need of fuel.
- We don’t waste any wood, by creating wood products and using the byproducts, like sawdust.
- After harvesting the trees we continue processing the logs in our own small scale sawmill on site. We produce long lasting high quality wood products, like furniture and beams. The carbon is stored in these products for many more years. Producing on site saves long transportation journeys to mills.
Our carbon storage impact
Because of these practices our woodlot business can be considered as carbon negative which means that more carbon is stored and sequestrated than is released and this process reduces the carbon build up in the atmosphere and therefore reduces our impact on climate change. Our sustainable forest management is a long term project. This means that the carbon is saved in our woodlot over a long period of time.
By purchasing our products, you know you are supporting a small company that is doing their part to mitigate climate change.