Wood-based products can store carbon and replace fossil-based materials

News 2022-04-22 at 10:00
© Adobe Stock

The potential of wood-based products to store carbon dioxide and replace fossil-based raw materials has been studied in a recently published research report. Forests and forest products can contribute to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon into forests or wood-based products and by avoiding fossil-based greenhouse gas emissions in substitution for alternative materials.

The report was published by The Finnish Environment Institute and the German Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung Heidelberg (IFEU) and was initiated and funded by UPM.

“So far, there has been no science-based methodology to calculate all climate effects of forest industry in a coherent way. This report contributes to developing such a methodology,” Sami Lundgren, Vice President, UPM Responsibility says.

Climate impact has to be assessed carefully

“Assessing climate effects of forest products is challenging. There are so many ways of using wood, number of assumptions required, and many uncertainties involved. This report helps to understand and overcome these challenges in practice,” Head of Unit Sampo Soimakallio from the Finnish Environment Institute says.

The report provides some practical guidelines to assess the climate effects both at product and company level. In addition, it sheds light on the current limitations and assumptions of such assessments.

“Carbon footprint is becoming increasingly important for product labelling. On the other hand, the methodology for calculating it is not always clearly defined, even though different international standards exist. The reliability of footprint data can thus be questioned. This report puts great emphasis on methodological transparency,” states Horst Fehrenbach, Head of Department, IFEU.

“This report did not look at the effects of timber harvesting on forest carbon storages. They should be considered separately but consistently in addition to the carbon storage and fossil substitution effects of wood products, when assessing the climate impact of wood use. The report makes principled recommendations for this”, Soimakallio says.


The full report: Fossil carbon emission substitution and carbon storage effects of wood-based products

UPM press release: UPM deepens the scientific knowledge on its products’ climate impacts


  • Sampo Soimakallio, Head of Unit, Finnish Environment Institute, forename.surname@syke.fi, tel. +358 295 251 803
  • Sami Lundgren, Vice President, Responsibility, UPM, forename.surname@upm.com tel. +358 40 5800 910
  • Horst Fehrenbach, Head of Department, IFEU, forename.surname@ifeu.de, tel. +49 (0)6221 4767 16