Celebrate forests. Celebrate the things that come from them.
March 21 marks the International Day of Forests with 2018 focusing on Forests and Sustainable Cities. Trees in urban areas, natural forests and plantations, store carbon and release oxygen which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change. They also filter and regulate water, protect wetlands and watersheds, and prevent floods by storing water in their branches, roots and soil.
Trees also provide us with food like fruit and nuts, and certain species are farmed for productive purposes like the manufacturing of paper. “Paper is not made from urban or natural forests,” says Jane Molony, president of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations and the executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa.
“In South Africa, and many countries around the world, paper is made from farmed trees, just as grain is farmed for food. Yet people often don’t make this connection when they think of paper and wood products.”
Molony explains that there is a long-held notion that paper kills trees. Harvesting is often misconstrued as deforestation but nothing could be further from the truth. “Wood and paper products are, in fact, as renewable as you can get, and by choosing responsibly sourced paper for communication and packaging, we’re actually helping the environment, not hurting it.”
Choosing to use paper also sustains around 150,000 jobs in the forest-paper value chain.
Farming trees to make paper products
“In South Africa, only 6% of the total number of plantation trees is harvested each year. This area is then replanted with new saplings. More than 840 million trees are grown over 693,000 ha specifically grown for use in pulp and paper making,” says Molony.
It is for this reason that using the catchphrase of ‘saving trees’ in promoting ‘paperless’ methods is a fallacy. Electronic forms of communication are very much a part of our world, as is the 2000-year old technology that we use to transform our report drafts or manuscripts for first novels into ‘hard copy’.
“We certainly do not advocate the printing of every email – but we do encourage people to print things that they need to view regularly. Repeatedly viewing the same documents on screen uses energy – and unless your computer is powered by solar energy, this will add to your carbon footprint, Molony explains.
Remember this the next time you use any paper product
“Paper is more than copy paper. It is the box that gets your online shopping order safely to your door. It’s the box of cereal, the label on the coffee jar, the bag of sugar and the milk carton,” Molony notes.
“It is toilet paper and tissue, as well as the unplugged pleasure offered by printed books and magazines.”
Paper is very much part of everything we do. And that’s a good thing. Especially for trees. Especially for our climate and the vision for a low carbon world.
“Protecting trees of various kinds is vital – not only for our cities, but for industry and everyday life. If it wasn’t for commercially grown trees planted by the forest products sector, indigenous forests would have been eradicated to meet mankind’s fibre, fuel and furniture needs.”
Remember this the next time you use paper – which could be in the next few minutes.
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) promotes the use of paper as a renewable and recyclable material for communication, packaging and a myriad of other applications. Some of its members rank among the top 20 pulp producers in the world, making the South African pulp and paper manufacturing sector robust, well regulated and highly developed. Representing more than 90% of paper, packaging and tissue manufacturers in South Africa, PAMSA has been actively advancing the ‘story of paper’ since its foundation in 1992. Although some of its industry members have global footprints, their origins are firmly rooted in this country, as forest and land owners, and pulp and paper producers. www.thepaperstory.co.za
There are 3.7 billion hectares of forests in the world (FAO, 2015. Some 93% of this area comprises natural forests, while 7% is planted to trees for productive purposes. The growth of productive plantations, along with the sustainable management of indigenous and natural forests, play a vital role in the protection and conservation of natural ecosystems.
Like most industries, paper manufacturing has an impact on the environment. This is mitigated through carbon sequestration by plantations; the use of biomass-based renewable energy (derived from papermaking by-products); emissions reduction and water recycling initiatives; biodiversity and grassland conservation at plantation level and waste reduction through paper recovery and recycling.
Greenpeace co-founder Dr Patrick Moore said: “We should be growing more trees and using more wood. If landowners had no market for wood, they would clear the forest away and grow something else they could make money from instead. When you go into a lumber (wood) yard, you are given the impression that by buying wood you are causing the forest to be lost, when in fact what you are doing is sending a signal into the market to plant more trees.”
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organise activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2018 is Forests and Sustainable Cities.