Author: Mohamed Hamza Ghaouri
The ever-growing global demand for timber and wood has resulted in worldwide deforestation and forest cover loss. Between year 2016 to 2018, Malaysia had forest cover loss of almost 500,000 hectares (492,203 ha). However, since the timber industry and wood-related products makes up a crucial pillar of the economy, the government encourages sustainable forestry practices to help Malaysia meet the global demands and conserve virgin forests. This upwards demand for timber, which is expected to triple by 2050 and the growth in population, has led Finterra Global Plantations to get involved in sustainable forestry to meet these demands.
- 80% of terrestrial species on the planet live in forests.
- Deforestation is one of the greatest risks of extinction for many species.
- Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year.
- Logging in violation of national laws accounts for 8-10% of global production and trade in forest products.
- In Asia, over 80% of forest degradation cases are due to illegal logging.
- Illegal logging represents 40-50% of all logging in some of the most valuable and threatened forests on earth
- Increasing global demand for low-cost timber products supports a multi-billion-dollar business of illegal and unsustainable logging in forests worldwide.
Demand exceeds (legal) supply
- The world’s natural forests cannot sustainably meet the growing global demand for wood products under current forest management practices.
- The trade in illegally harvested timber is highly lucrative. It is estimated to be worth between USD 51–152 billion annually.
- Lack of legal timber supplies opens door to illegal logging and timber trafficking.
- When timber is harvested illegally, governments lose much-needed revenue.
- Degrading ecosystem services normally provided by healthy and productive forests threatens climate, biodiversity and food security
- High emissions of CO2 and toxic substances into the atmosphere creating a large greenhouse gas concentration.
- Natural disasters such as fires and floods devastate hundreds of thousands of hectares each year. Most of these activities cause severe erosion and loss of topsoil.
- Forest fires are also on the rise with over 58,000 forest fires reported in 2020, majority of which were man made.
Paulownia is a fast-growing multipurpose light hardwood tree comprising of nine sub-species with a few natural hybrids. The species itself is named after Queen Anna Pavlovna of the Netherlands and is also known as the Aluminium of woods for its light, flexible yet strong characteristics. Due to its rapid growth and value in the timber market, many Paulownia species are cultivated in several temperate zones worldwide including in South East Asia, Europe, China, Japan, Australia and the Americas.
Features and Benefits of Paulownia
- Can be coppiced (harvest the tree by cutting it off near ground level and another tree will begin to grow from the same root system).
- When the root-ball of Paulownia is harvested, the remaining root system will produce from 40 to 60 root cuttings, which are propagated for market as new growing stock.
- The wood is a lightweight hardwood, straight-grained, free of knots, very stable, light in color, easy to work (mill, sand, carve, etc.), and very easy to dry and with less drying defects.
- The large surface area of the Paulownia’s broad leaves take-in correspondingly large amounts of carbon dioxide, and give out correspondingly large amounts of oxygen
- The fallen leaves can be used as nutrient-rich stock feed, or as a component of high-grade compost to enrich the soil.
- Water sensitive roots doesn’t invade sewer or water pipes.
- Can be used for furniture, veneer, boxes for shipping, particleboard, doors & windows, musical instruments, picture frames, toys, fishing net floats, and for shoes.
- The wood is also very stable in wet/humid environments, and is highly durable and decay resistant
- Due to its rapid growth, the tree can be harvested and used for further processing much faster than other species of precious wood.
- Paulownia trees are very robust and extremely weather resistant.
- Paulownia wood is versatile due to its properties and is already in great demand and use in numerous industries (USA, China, Australia).
- Due to the enormously large leaves of up to 40 cm in diameter, an above-average amount of CO2 is compensated and remains bound in the wood in the long term. This not only helps the environment, but also reduces the personal CO2 footprint of the owner.
Paulownia is truly a remarkable floristic solution to some of the world’s most pressing social, environmental and economic problems. The unique species of Paulownia which Finterra and its partner has selected grows rapidly in the Malaysian tropical weather, is resistant to diseases, maintains its high-grade quality and characteristics. It has been selected to meet the needs of both the domestic and international markets for planting materials required for afforestation, bioenergy products, feed-stock, furniture, industrial usage, while other new uses and related products are continuously being developed ensuring it remains in high demand and of economic importance throughout the year.
It is absolutely necessary to create a green revolution by using the latest technologies as our weapon to fight this global dilemma and meet the enormous demand. Since our problem is a two-headed snake, that is, an insatiable craving for timber and a related, but distinct, evil of illegal harvesting, we are addressing this problem with blockchain technology.