Forests: A breath of fresh air?

Air is a non-negotiable requirement for most living things but in the increasingly industrialised world the quality of our air is a major concern. Forests could hold the key. In this blog Tallulah Chapman, Communications Manager of Forest Stewardship Council UK, explains how.

Air is a non-negotiable requirement for most living things. And as the global population nears 8 billion and the planet becomes increasingly industrialised, the quality of our air is a major concern. Air pollution is not only harmful to health, but also to the environment in general, causing issues like acid rain, haze and climate change.

“In an especially destructive feedback loop, air pollution not only contributes to climate change but is also exacerbated by it,” Natural Resources Defence Council

Last month toxic smog in Bangkok, Thailand, forced more than 400 schools to close to protect children from its harmful effects. And although London’s air may appear clear to the naked eye, the city has suffered from illegal levels of air pollution since 2010.

But there is a solution

We are already equipped with a machine capable of converting CO2 back into breathable oxygen, locking away carbon for years or even thousands of years and filtering contaminants from the air. What’s more, while it does all of this it also helps to conserve water, soil and biodiversity. But it’s not some sleek, lab-made invention, rather it’s the humble, and traditionally rather gnarly, tree.

Trees also have the neat habit of forming forests and woodlands, some of which can stretch over millions of miles, and bring with them even greater benefits than those offered by lone trees. It’s even been discovered that they talk to each other; connected by biological pathways which enable them to communicate, share nutrients and behave almost as a single organism.

“We, leaders, today in Paris on November 30th 2015, recognize the essential role forests play in the long-term health of our planet, in contributing to sustainable development, and in meeting our shared goal of avoiding dangerous climate change,” Parties to the UNFCCC, 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference

Healthy, functioning forests are key not just in terms of ensuring clean air but also in combating climate breakdown while supporting sustainable development. But unless these precious ecosystems are responsibly managed, our engagement with and exploitation of forests can end up doing more harm than good.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a framework for global change. They highlight the areas we all need to focus on to ensure a brighter future for us as human beings as well as for the rest of the planet. Our work at the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) addresses the majority of the 17 SDGs, covering ecological and social issues in forests around the globe. This makes FSC a solution for anyone who wants to do their part to protect the world’s forests and achieve the SDGs.

In 2019 we launched “Together We Are FSC”, a campaign to support anyone working within the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to better understand how FSC helps their business achieve the SDGs and safeguard our planet for future generations.

To make sure that your organisation supports vital forest habitats you can follow these 5 steps when sourcing wood, paper and other forest products:

  1. Source from an FSC-certified supplier (see the FSC certificate database)

  2. Check that the supplier’s certificate is valid and that it covers the appropriate product categories

  3. Specify FSC-certified materials from your supplier

  4. Ask your supplier to make an FSC claim on their sales documents

  5. Check that the delivery note and/or invoice clearly identifies the FSC-certified products and includes the supplier’s FSC certificate code (this is your evidence to show that you have purchased FSC-certified products)

Tallulah Chapman is Communications Manager at FSC UK, to find out more about FSC and the Together We Are FSC campaign visit