Climate Change

Renewable wood-based products can help combat climate change: FAO

Bioeconomy has emerged as a concept for tackling challenges that contribute to climate change

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Thursday 18 November 2021

Renewable wood-based products can help combat climate change and achieve Sustainable Development Goals, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Engineered wood products and wood-based textile fibres are two emerging forest product categories that can provide renewable and sustainable solutions to the global crisis. 

The production and consumption of engineered wood products are rising, mainly due to increased application in wood-frame multi-storey construction. Lyocell fibres are modern wood-based textile fibres that have properties like viscose and polyester but are more environmentally friendly in production.

Bioeconomy has emerged as a concept for tackling challenges such as the over consumption of an overreliance on non-renewable natural resources. Forests and the forest sector are important components of a bioeconomy.

The report Forest Products in the global bioeconomy: Enabling substitution by wood-based products and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals brings together the most recent knowledge on the role of forest products in the global bioeconomy. 

It examined forestry’s role in providing green solutions that can drive the global shift to a Net Zero future. This can be achieved by promoting wood as a bio-based material that can substitute fossil sources to produce energy, food, feed, fibre and other manufactured goods, according to the organisation. 

In a statement at the World Bioeconomy Forum in Belem (Brazil), FAO’s Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest-based Industries said:

Forest-based industries make an essential contribution to Net Zero emission targets, to which many businesses have committed in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

China, New Zealand, Turkey, the United States of America and the European Union have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy or action plan, FAO said. The highest-level bioeconomy strategy is the National Bioeconomy Blueprint. 

The federal bioeconomy strategic objectives included a strengthening of research and development, fast-forwarding innovations from laboratory to market roll-out, reducing regulatory barriers, development of a bioeconomy workforce and the fostering of partnerships.

But other countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Australia and the Russian Federation do not have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy, the report showed. 

The focus of these strategies and action plans varies significantly. Many of them relate to innovation and biotechnology to develop new value-added products or improve the productivity of biological resources and bioenergy.

Developing awareness as well as addressing knowledge and implementation gaps in the global forest product value chain is crucial in ensuring the sustainability of a circular forest-based bioeconomy, the authors noted. 

The report included specific recommendations for governments, industry and international cooperation bodies on how to increase their contribution to sustainable development.

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