“Imagine the Opportunity of a Smaller Carbon Footprint”
Harrisburg, PA— A team effort amongst the Commonwealth’s Hardwoods Development Council (HDC) and the state’s three Hardwood Utilization Groups (HUGs), is responsible for an exhibit entitled, “Imagine the Opportunity of a Smaller Carbon Footprint,” which is currently showcased at the PA Farm Show, which runs through January 11. Made possible by a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture matching grant, the display addresses the environmental benefits of using wood and forest products.
“The HDC’s exhibit offers an understanding of how trees and wood products help our environment,” says Nicholas Bisaccia, chairman of Keystone Wood Products Association (KWPA), the state’s Hardwood Utilization Group covering Central PA. “Most people have a general understanding of the environmental impact, but the exhibit shares the whole story.”
The overall theme of this year’s Farm Show is Imagine the Opportunities. The HDC’s exhibit, which consists of 7 stages, explores how forests and wood products can reduce carbon emissions.
“The first stage defines carbon and explains the carbon cycle. Basically, as trees produce oxygen, they store carbon—thus reducing air pollution,” says Sarah Hall Bagdonas, program manager at Northern Tier Hardwood Association (NTHA), a hardwood utilization group that covers Northeast PA. “Additional stages explain how carbon footprints--the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air because of our own energy needs—can be reduced.”
Suggestions include using carbon neutral energy sources such as firewood and pellets. Other environmentally sound options include choosing wood furniture, cabinetry, flooring and building materials.
“The look of wood is trending,” says Bisaccia, “But unfortunately, most people are using ‘look-alike’ products that are not made of real American hardwood.”
Alternative building materials—even if they look like wood, place a strain on our environment by polluting the atmosphere. One stage compares the carbon emissions from the production of plastic, wood and metal products—with wood offering the smallest environmental impact.
“Other stages debunk the myth that harvesting trees is unhealthy,” says Amy Shields, Executive Director of Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group, Inc. (AHUG) which serves Northwestern PA. “The truth is that if trees are harvested in a sustainable fashion, it makes a positive impact on the environment. Like living trees, harvested trees store carbon—thus improving air quality. Once trees are transformed into wood products, they will store carbon for the life of the product. Wood products are a green choice.”
Sustainable harvesting has additional environmental advantages.
“When trees are harvested no part of the tree is wasted,” says Bisaccia. “Limbs are often made into mulch and sawdust is transformed into animal bedding or pulp. Timbered lands also create critical habitat for wildlife. Sustainable forestry is a win-win.”
Other stages demonstrate actual sustainability as they indicate how quickly hardwood trees grow.
“According to the American Hardwood Export Council, every two minutes, the United States Hardwood forest grows by the size of a football field,” says Stephanie Phillips-Taggart, KWPA Marketing Coordinator. “To put it in perspective, if we were to cover the farm show floor—1 million square feet—with solid red oak flooring, it would take 1 hour, 22 minutes and 25 seconds for the forest to regenerate that volume.”
The latest statistics show that Pennsylvania is a leader in hardwood production as it typically produces 1 billion board feet annually.
“One of our goals is to help the state remain competitive in the global economy. This collaborative farm show effort showcases the benefits of the industry. We are very appreciative of this opportunity.” says Bisaccia. “If you get a chance, stop by the HDC’s exhibit—it is a must see.”
The PA Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the United States with an estimated half million visitors each year. As nonprofit organizations, the HUGs and its members help staff the HDC booth, alongside HDC and industry volunteers. For more information on the state’s hardwood utilization groups, visit www.whypahardwoods.com, www.nthardwoods.org, and www.ahug.com.
KWPA Marketing Coordinator