Environmental Aspects of Wood Products
Is use of wood products good for the environment? Check out this quiz to find out the real facts relevant to common misconceptions.
Answers are in BOLD type below each question.
• True (T) or False (F). The raw material that is used in the greatest quantity in the
United States today, and which accounts for almost one-third (by weight) of the total raw materials used annually, is steel.
False. More wood is consumed annually in the United States, on both a volume and weight basis, than all metals and all types of plastics combined.
• True (T) or False (F). The world is rapidly running out of many important minerals.
False. The prices of most metals have continued to fall in recent decades indicating relative abundance, despite the fact that metals are non-renewable resources.
• The number one cause of tropical deforestation worldwide is:
a. commercial logging.
c. clearing of lands for agricultural use.
d. gathering of firewood.
e. building of roads and cities.
Clearing of lands for agricultural use (c ) is by far the leading cause of tropical deforestation worldwide.
• The area covered by forests in the United States today is approximately _______ of the forested area that existed in 1600.
a. 68 percent
b. 50 percent
c. 33 percent
d. 25 percent
e. 17 percent
There are 737 million acres of forests in the U.S. today, about 70% of the 1.044 billion acres of forests estimated to have covered what is now the United States in the year 1600.
• Which of the following statements most accurately describes United States Forests over the past decade:
a. forest harvest has exceeded net growth by 8 percent.
b. forest harvest has exceeded net growth by 3 percent.
c. forest harvest roughly equaled net growth.
d. net forest growth exceeded harvest by 19 percent.
e. net forest growth exceeded harvest by 31 percent.
Net growth of forests in the United States substantially exceeds harvest. The most recent figures show that growth exceeds harvest by a healthy 31% (e).
• Which of the following statements most accurately describes federally owned forests (i.e. the National Forests) in the United States over the past decade:
a. forest harvest exceeded net growth by 30 percent.
b. forest harvest exceeded net growth by 10 percent.
c. forest harvest roughly equaled net growth.
d. net forest growth exceeded harvest by 30 percent.
e. net forest growth exceeded harvest by 55 percent.
Over the past decade net growth in U.S. federally managed forests has exceeded harvest by 55 percent (e) or more.
• True (T) or False (F). As originally established, it was never intended that the National Forests of the United States would be periodically harvested to obtain timber that would be used in meeting the nation's need for wood.
False. One of the specifically stated reasons for establishment of the National Forests was to ensure a continuous supply of wood for the citizens of the United States.
•True (T) or False (F). At current rates of deforestation, 40 percent of current forests in the United States will be lost by the middle of the next century.
False. Forests actually increased in area coverage in the United States between 1985 and 1995. However, due to continuing growth of urban areas and building of highways, it is predicted that 3 to 5% of the current area of forest land in the U.S. could by lost by 2050.
• True (T) or False (F). In the U.S. and globally, more species of plants and animals have been driven to extinction by logging activity than any other activity of mankind.
False. There is no documented evidence of even one plant or animal species having been driven to extinction by logging activity in the United States.
• True (T) or False (F). Under current United States law, forest harvesting is allowed within federally designated wilderness areas.
False. Forest harvesting is not allowed in federally designated wilderness areas.
• True (T) or False (F). Populations of elk, pronghorn antelope, and wild turkey have declined significantly in the United States over the past 50 years.
False. The populations of all these species have increased by over 1,000% (10 x) over the past 50 years.
• True (T) or False (F). Considering the total annual harvest of forests in Minnesota and the total consumption of wood and wood fiber products within the State, Minnesota is a net importer of wood and wood products.
True. Minnesota is a net importer of approximately 8% of the total wood and wood fiber consumed annually in the state.
• True (T) or False (F). Considering the total annual harvest of forests in the United States and the total consumption of wood and wood fiber products within our country, the U.S. is a net importer of wood and wood products.
True. The United States is a net importer of about 35 percent of the lumber consumed annually within the country. When all products are considered, including exports of logs, chips, and waste paper, the U.S. was a net importer in 1998 of 0.7 percent of the total wood and wood fiber consumed within its borders. The United States has been a net importer of wood for over 30 years.
• The use of forest products in the United States:
a.has declined significantly since 1960.
b. has remained at about the same level for the past 50 years.
c. is growing slowly as the population increases.
d. has increased on a per capita basis by over 25 percent since 1970.
Per capita consumption of forest products in the United States is about 25 percent higher today (d) than in 1970.
• As a percentage of all the paper used in the United States in 1999, _____ was recovered for reuse.
In 1999, 45.0 percent (e) of all paper used in the United States was collected for reuse. This amounted to 47.3 million tons of recovered paper.
• Recovered paper provided _____ of the U.S. paper industry's fiber in 1999.
a. 2.0 percent
b. 6.1 percent
c. 12.9 percent
d. 19.8 percent
e. 24.3 percent
f. 37.8 percent
Recovered paper provided 37.8 percent of the U.S. paper industry's fiber in 1999. The difference between the wastepaper collection rate (45.0 percent) and the recovered paper use rate (37.8 percent) is largely traceable to the fact that the United States is the world's largest exporter of waste paper.
• True (T) or False (F). More extensive recycling of paper could reduce harvesting of forests in the United States by 60 percent or more.
False. Several recent studies have shown that while paper recycling is extremely important, and a major contributor to reducing demand for virgin pulpwood, increasing recycling to the maximum level allowed by current technology would have the effect of reducing demand for virgin fiber by only 12-13 percent. Moreover, when taking into consideration the time that will be required to move to the technological limit of recycling, and the population growth that will occur in the meantime, it is likely that demand for virgin fiber will continue to increase, even with aggressive recycling programs.
• The building material that can be produced with the least impact on the environment is:
d. virgin steel
e. recycled steel
Well-documented environmental life cycle inventories of various raw materials production processes conducted by research organizations around the world show that wood products can be manufactured with relatively little environmental impact compared to potential alternatives. Even when wood products are compared to cement-based and recycled metal products, energy consumption and associated environmental impacts associated with wood-based materials manufacture are generally substantially lower.