Like the rest of the world, but perhaps especially as timber merchants and wood experts, WL West are extremely aware that trees are the planet’s greatest natural filters and renewable resources. Planting trees has long been held as a measure to save the planet. At school, we are taught that trees give cool shade, clean our air, and stabilise soil and buildings; however, trees are also evolutionary heroes that have lived through millions of years in climates both scorching and many degrees below zero. How is it that our actions can halt the effects of this huge green lung if they have been through it before?
How Do Trees Cool the Climate?
Recent studies have made the discovery that trees have more than one trick up their sleeve.1 Through the process of photosynthesis and evapotranspiration, trees release oxygen and other organic gases. When the temperature is sufficient, evapotranspiration allows for these gases and vapour to rise up into the atmosphere, where they form large cloud-like masses.
These clouds, witnessed in urban dwellings as photochemical smog (where the trees’ organic gases combine with chemical compounds such as car exhausts), can span huge areas. Increasing the density and brightness of this cloud cover allows for the reflection of IR rays instead of their absorption into the canopy, thus cooling the climate beneath.
This natural process could be particularly useful in the tropics, where ambient temperatures are high and could release huge amounts of vapour at a time.
Why Is Planting Trees Important?
Planting trees across the earth could save the planet. Generally, every ton of growing tree takes out 1.48 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
However, the sheer scope of the project – and of the globe – gives this project complexities that few people could understand, let alone predict. For instance, in climates like Siberia, trees in fact sequester CO2, which adds to the warming effect.
In order to better understand the carbon cycle and plan for optimum use of the right soil type, Thomas Ward Crowther, chief scientific advisor of the UN’s Trillion Tree Campaign, has made it his business to count exactly how many trees there are on the planet. He and his 30 colleagues have found that around three trillion trees grow on Earth at any one time. “Although that sounds a lot, 10 billion trees are lost every year, and humans have probably reduced the planet’s original tree population by around a half,” Crowther stresses.2 The name ‘one trillion trees’, then, has become a target for those planting trees, not a result. Worldwide efforts are going into reaching that number in the coming years.
How Can WL West Help?
At WL West we are extremely aware that our business is based on a renewable resource. Without trees or an environment that is friendly to their growth, we cannot function. As such, we are committed to giving back what we take.
- We source our timber responsibly in accordance with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, an international, non-profit NGO which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. This is a chain of custody for which we have certification and are audited every year. In addition, we also have CoC certification for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and GiB (Grown in Britain). Details here.
- We actively helped to start Grown in Britain, a vehicle for increasing British timber production and supply. Through the expertise and guidance of their executive team we’re able to extend and expand the work of Grown in Britain and sustaining it for the future.
- We are also long-standing and active members of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), meaning we meet the TTF Responsible Purchasing Policy, verified by the Soil Association, and abide by the European Timber Regulations (EUTR – shortly to become the UKTR).
- We source our stock locally whenever possible.
- Our timber sources actively meet the replanting and regeneration regulations in the source country.
- Our range of products and services are eco-friendly wherever possible, eg: carbon-neutral oak and cedar cladding.
- Recycling is our favourite word. We recycle a maximum of timber secondary product. So for us this means that wood shavings go to local animal bedding, while wood chips from slabwood are useful to biomass industries.
- We support charities and local communities how and when we can.
- You can read more on our commitment to sustainability here.
- Burba, George. “Evapotranspiration.” The Encyclopedia of Earth. 2006. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Evapotranspiration
- Rüegg, Peter. “Huge grant for ecosystems researcher.” ETH Zürich. 2018. https://ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2018/02/portrait-tom-crowther.html