Brian Kulubya - Sustainable Forestry Expert at Easy Housing
In our pursuit of a more sustainable future, one industry stands out for its significant impact on carbon reduction and storage: sustainable forestry. By embracing timber homes as a viable construction solution, we not only contribute to sustainable housing but also drive the growth of sustainable forestry. In this article, we will explore the interconnectedness of timber homes and sustainable forestry, highlighting the tangible benefits and opportunities they present.
Sustainable forestry is the practice of managing forests in a way that ensures their long-term health and productivity. This includes practices such as replanting trees after they are harvested, preventing soil erosion, and protecting biodiversity. Sustainable forestry can help to protect forests and mitigate climate change.
The demand for sustainable forestry products is growing. This is because people are becoming more aware of the importance of protecting forests and mitigating climate change. As the demand for sustainable forestry products grows, it will create more opportunities for sustainable forestry businesses. The potential demand for fast, biobased construction in East Africa can scale up the sustainable forestry sector.
So Timber Homes Do Not Cause Deforestation?
The answer is no. Timber homes such as those produced by Easy Housing, are durable and energy-efficient, which can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. There are many benefits to building with timber such as :
Sustainability: Timber is a renewable resource that can be harvested without harming the environment. When a tree is harvested, a new tree is planted in its place. This helps to ensure that forests are sustainable in the long term.
Durability: Timber is a strong and durable material that can withstand harsh weather elements. Timber homes can last for centuries, making them a wise investment.
Energy efficiency: Timber is a good insulator, which can help to keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This can save homeowners money on their energy bills.
Health benefits: Timber is a natural material that can help to improve air quality and reduce stress levels. Studies have shown that people who live in timber homes have lower rates of asthma and allergies.
Scaling Up Sustainable Forestry:
One of the key advantages of our approach at Easy Housing is that many of our sustainable forestry partners have underutilised capacity. They currently operate below maximum sustainable yield, which means there is ample room to increase production without compromising the long-term viability of the forests. As we gradually increase our demand for sustainable forestry products, we also provide the financial resources necessary for our partners to scale up their operations. This mutual growth supports the expansion of sustainable plantations, the acquisition of additional land, and the enhancement of forestry activities.
Tropical Pine Plantations: A Sustainable Option for Sub-Saharan Africa
Tropical pine trees are a type of tree that grows very quickly. They are native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world. In Europe, the average rotation time for pine species is much longer i.e mature Pinus sylvestris trees reach 30-35m in height with a spread of 6-12m in around 30-50 years. . This is because the climate in Europe is not as conducive to the growth of pine trees.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the average rotation time for tropical pine plantations is about 10-16 years. This means that it takes about 16 years maximum for a tropical pine plantation to reach maturity and be ready for harvesting. The fertile soils, and lack of pests and diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa contribute to the fast growing cycle of tropical pine plantations. This makes them a very attractive option for sustainable forestry, as partners can start generating income from their plantations relatively quickly and they can help to mitigate climate change by storing carbon.
Case studies of sustainable forestry projects that have been successful
Green Resources is a sustainable forestry company that has been operating in East Africa for over 20 years. The company manages approximately 38,000 hectares of plantation forest and is committed to the principles of sustainable forestry. Green Resources' plantations are a major source of employment in East Africa and provide a range of environmental benefits. The company is committed to sustainable forestry and has a number of practices in place to protect the environment and ensure the long-term viability of its plantations. These sustainable practices have a number of benefits, including environmental protection, employment and income generation for local communities.
Another example is LevasFlor, a natural forestry company in Mozambique. LevasFlor is a company that manages natural forest concessions It owns over 46,000 hectares of forests.The company has been able to generate income for local communities while also protecting the forest ecosystem. The timber used in an average Easy Home sustains around 225 hectares of natural forestry during 1 year based on maximum sustainable yield (MSY) rates.
Each Easy Home we build protects over a football field of forest!
Easy Housing protects over a football field of forest for each home built by partnering with sustainable forestry companies such as LevasFlor in Mozambique and Busoga Forestry Company in Uganda. LevasFlor, with a forest concession of 46,000 hectares and a current timber production of around 3,000 m3 per year, ensures sustainable timber sourcing. Their sustainable yield, as per a 2010 report, is 6,000 m3 (round logs). By employing efficient processes with a 50% conversion factor from logs to beams and minimising waste with 10% offcuts in the workshop, they achieve an average net timber of 12 m3 per home.
This allows LevasFlor to protect and manage approximately 225 hectares of natural FSC forest for each home. Similarly, Busoga Forestry Company in Uganda, with a planted forest area of 4,650 hectares, follows sustainable practices, offering a sustainable yield of 39 m3 per hectare per year for pine. With 50% efficiency from logs to beams and 10% offcuts, they can sustainably provide around 0.69 hectares of plantation forest per home. By choosing these responsible forestry partners, Easy Housing ensures the preservation of significant forest areas, supporting their commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation while providing high-quality timber for their homes.
Carbon Sequestration, Construction Stored Carbon and Carbon Removal Credits.
Carbon sequestration is a critical process in the fight against climate change, and construction stored carbon (CSC) presents a promising avenue to combat carbon emissions. Carbon sequestration involves capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, effectively mitigating its impact on the planet. CSC, on the other hand, refers to the carbon captured and stored within building materials utilised in construction, offering a novel approach to reducing emissions in the building industry.
Recognizing the significance of these initiatives, Easy Housing is proud to announce the imminent launch of its first-ever carbon removal credits (CRCs) dedicated to CSC. This groundbreaking endeavour will take place towards the end of 2023 and will be facilitated through the esteemed Open Natural Carbon Removal Accounting (ONCRA) platform. ONCRA is a cutting-edge framework that empowers carbon dioxide removal and storage through nature-based solutions. Furthermore, ONCRA enables the monetization of these efforts as transition finance to effectively combat climate change.
The implementation of CSC CRCs heralds a transformative shift in the construction and housing sectors. By quantifying and valuing the carbon stored in buildings, this pioneering initiative not only incentivizes sustainable construction practices but also rewards customers for their commitment to environmental responsibility. Customers opting for CSC-integrated projects will enjoy upfront discounts, enabling them to actively participate in the battle against climate change.
The benefits of CSC extend beyond individual incentives, positively impacting various facets of our society and environment. Firstly, CSC plays a crucial role in decarbonizing the building industry, which is responsible for a substantial portion of global greenhouse gas emissions i.e. about 38%, By promoting the adoption of CSC, Easy Housing strives to make sustainable building practices the new standard, fostering a more sustainable and resilient future.
Furthermore, embracing CSC aligns with the principles of sustainable forest management. As construction materials that store carbon are derived from forests, responsible sourcing and management of these resources ensure the conservation and regeneration of forests, enhancing their capacity to sequester carbon naturally.
Improved indoor air quality in buildings is yet another significant advantage of CSC. As the materials utilised in CSC projects tend to be natural and biobased, they contribute to healthier indoor environments, promoting the wellbeing of occupants.
Energy consumption reduction is an additional positive impact of CSC. Sustainable construction practices that utilise carbon-storing materials can contribute to improved energy efficiency in buildings, leading to reduced carbon emissions from energy sources.
Moreover, CSC has the potential to spur job creation in the forestry and construction sectors, fostering economic growth and supporting communities that play a vital role in these industries. By driving demand for CSC projects, Easy Housing aims to make a tangible difference in the lives of many while addressing the pressing challenges posed by climate change.
As we take our first steps into the realm of CSC CRCs, Easy Housing firmly believes in the immense potential of this initiative to spearhead the transition towards a low-carbon future. By issuing these credits on the ONCRA platform, we seek to set an example for the industry, encouraging more companies to follow suit and embrace carbon sequestration efforts.
The journey towards a greener future calls for collective action and engagement. Easy Housing welcomes all stakeholders, from customers to industry partners, to join in this transformative endeavour. Together, we can pave the way for a more sustainable world, harnessing the power of CSC and carbon removal credits to usher in a brighter future for generations to come.
Our Safeguards assessment beyond FSC.
Easy Housing was selected as a breakthrough initiative under Climate Smart Forestry Economy Program (CSFEP) because it is a successful example of how sustainable forestry can be used to create jobs, provide affordable housing, and protect the environment. The project will generate income for local communities while also protecting the forest ecosystem. You can find more information about the above program Easy Housing| CSFEP
The symbiotic relationship between timber homes and sustainable forestry holds tremendous promise for building a sustainable future. Through our innovative approach, we protect vast areas of forest, drive the growth of sustainable plantations, and reduce carbon emissions. As we embrace timber homes as a viable construction solution, we pave the way for a greener and more resilient built environment. Together with our sustainable forestry partners, we are at the forefront of a sustainable revolution, creating tangible change, one timber home at a time.
Call to action:
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of timber homes and sustainable forestry, please visit our website Easy Housing and contact us via email or through our various social media channels. We would be happy to discuss how you can contribute to this important movement.