By Gokul Siddharthan J, DCMME Graduate Student Assistant
When it comes to climate change, one of the primary industries that is singled out apart from fossil fuel and energy companies is the timber industry. Historically, they have been known to contribute to climate change through deforestation. We know that trees are responsible for capturing the carbon in the atmosphere, and the historical rate at which deforestation has been is an alarming cause of concern. Both deforestation and pollution rapidly increase the rate of global warming. However, with the advent of modern technology and increasing social awareness for a push against deforestation, timber companies are arriving at innovative solutions to reduce the carbon footprint and have their operations sustainable for the environment.
The Finnish timber company, Metsä Group, has positioned itself as a “forerunner in sustainable bioeconomy”. After a recent makeover costing $1.3bn it is now known as a bioproducts mill and as such is one of the largest in the world. This plant, near Äänekoski, a town in the centre of the country, consumes 6.5m cubic meters of wood a year. The forest is home to many species of wildlife, and the trees lock away the carbon in the atmosphere. Yet the company claims the mills do the opposite. For every tree harvested, four saplings are planted. The trees are thinned to ensure the best specimen survive, thus improving the overall tree population. Despite the increasing demand for wood, the annual growth of trees in Finland exceeds the volume of felling and natural loss by over 20 million cubic meters.
The mill has an aim to make use of every part of the wood. It has come up with many sustainable initiatives that make use of the textile industry to buy its byproducts. Their operations use some of the latest technology, such as drones to map out large swathes of land digitally. Harvesting an area is done by giant eight-wheeled machines, which fell, trim and cut the trunks to the required size. Information is relayed electronically to the mill to schedule deliveries. The company itself is researching innovative solutions that can help the timber industry reposition as a sustainable player. Such responsibilities and initiatives to the environment reassure the public to replace trust in corporations. There is no limit to their sustainable journey, and these innovations can even shape the future into a more habitable place.