Two Sides recently hosted a webinar on the sustainability advantages of plantation forestry with presenter Andrew Heald from UPM. He spoke about the need for doing more with less as the world’s population continues to grow and discussed how his company manages sustainable forestry plantations as part of WWF’s New Generation Plantation Project (NGPP).
Comparative projections on global population growth and the shrinking amount of suitable land available for growing crops paint a picture that can’t be ignored. According to the Global Footprint Network, the world global ecological footprint is currently at a rate that would require 1.6 planet earths. If we’re going to feed everyone and maintain adequate resources to produce the products needed for everyday life, we must find ways to make each acre of land more productive. The figure below shows how the amount of arable land per person is decreasing and “we can assume that the graph for commercial forestry is heading in the same direction” said Mr. Heald. He added: “we have to use land more efficiently to produce the crops and materials we need whilst at the same time protecting biodiversity and water resources. Its not going to be easy!”
That’s the ultimate goal of the NGPP. Mr. Heald explained how well-managed plantations can have a positive role to play in economic, social and environmental development when they are managed in accordance with the concepts of the NGPP.
UPM’s plantation management is aligned with New Generation Plantation Principles, which were established to maintain ecosystem integrity, protect and enhance high conservation values, effectively involve all stakeholders and contribute to economic growth and employment. According to Mr. Heald, plantation forests:
- use less land to produce a given volume of timber than harvesting natural forests ;
- are faster growing and more efficient;
- can be independently certified (FSC/SFI/PEFC); and
- using WWF – New Generation Plantation Principles, can have positive environmental and social impacts.
The following statistics were provided:
- 7% of total global forest cover is planted, yet this could provide around two-thirds of global industrial wood production.
- The volume of wood grown per year (cubic meters per hectare) is 6 m3/ha/yr in Finland, 14 m3/ha/yr in the UK and over 30 m3/ha/yr in Uruguay.
Currently UPM has about 400,000 ha of forest plantations in Uruguay (Eucalyptus) and the United Kingdom (Sitka Spruce).