Does Cutting a Tree Create Greenhouse Gas?

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Lumber on a red transport truck.

Chris Hellier / Getty Images

I am confused. Vancouver's ForestEthics is protesting the logging of Ontario's boreal forest. They say "Industrial logging of (Ontario's) forests is a significant contributor of carbon dioxide." and "On average, about 210,000 hectares of forest are logged in Ontario each year. Cutting those trees releases the equivalent of 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or about 7 per cent of the province's total of 203 million tonnes."

This treehugger always promotes wood as the best building material to fight global warming, because the carbon is sequestered for the life of the building. When we talked about FMO Tapiola, the Finns said "Wood serves as a carbon sink by absorbing and binding carbon dioxide. One cubic meter of wood stores nearly one ton of carbon dioxide. The storage process of carbon dioxide continues inside the wood products through their entire life cycle." and "The substitution effect of wood products has a significant impact on construction industry’s carbon dioxide emissions. The use of wood products replaces building materials that would have required a great deal of fossil energy to produce."

Evidently the Kyoto Protocol stipulates that emissions are to be counted as soon as trees are cut; we understand that to be because most deforestation leads to burning of the wood. While we do not support the clear-cutting of the Boreal forests, what about a sustainably managed, efficient forest? Next to recycled wood, is that not the best material around? If a tree is felled in the woods for lumber or building materials, why does it count as carbon? ::The Star