It’s very likely you encounter products made from pulp several times a day. But what is the true environmental impact of these wood-based products? UPM and the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE embarked on a pioneering study to find out.
Concrete information on the benefits that a forest yields in addition to wood raw material has now become available for the first time based on models created by third parties. These benefits, known as ecosystem services, are essential to all life on Earth.
A typical responsibly managed forested area in Finland roughly the size of a tennis court takes about a tree’s life cycle to grow enough wood to produce a tonne of pulp. Over this period the forest provides the broadest and most plentiful range of ecosystem services, explains UPM’s Timo Lehesvirta, Director, Forest Global.
“Forests are by far the most sensible commercial use of land when it comes to ecosystem
services and environmental impacts.”
Unlike traditional assessments that often focus only on the negative impacts of human actions,
the study of ecosystem services also considered positive opportunities. The variables measured in the pilot project were selected to reflect the most vital global issues: clean water, climate change, biodiversity and use of natural resources.
Petteri Vihervaara, a Senior Researcher specialising in ecosystem services at SYKE, explains that the wellbeing of people, societies and the environment are closely intertwined.
"Global businesses should also consider the global picture when determining the scope of their responsibility strategies.There are many ways to manufacture the same wood-based products, and the crucial question is who can produce them more sustainably.”
Both UPM and SYKE view this co-project as a starting point.
“This was the initial step in comprehensively understanding the impact of the whole forest industry value chain,” Lehesvirta says.
The ultimate goal is to give industrial customers and consumers alike a simple but accurate guide for making decisions.
“It will then be up to buyers to arrange their preferences according to what they want to emphasise. For example, you might be concerned about climate change, or you may focus on
products that sustain biodiversity. Or maybe you are seeking an optimised solution that covers all aspects of sustainability,” Vihervaara explains.
Watch here the video animation >>>
Link to our press release on the study from 30 September 2015:
UPM and SYKE’s study on ecosystem services provides more insight into the environmental impacts of wood-based products