STUDY Question 61:
Should we not cut any trees at all for paper-making?
STUDY: Most responses indicate that trees should be
cut to make paper. Some responses reference the importance
of exploring nonwood alternatives and/or using pulp
from sustainably harvested trees. One response mentions
that agricultural plants should replace trees as the
dominant fiber source for papermaking.
postconsumer recycled content, trees are an important
and effective source of fiber for paper and paper products.
- Victoria Mills, Project Manager, Corporate Partnerships,
wood pulp became widely used in the late 1800s, agricultural
plants were the dominant source of fiber. Cotton, straws,
and hemp - the paper used to draft the Declaration of
Independence - were the fibers of choice.
There is no shortage of
nonwood fiber material in this country. U.S. farmers
annually generate an estimated 280 million tons of excess
agricultural fiber, suitable for papermaking. Generally
these fibers are known to be pulped with higher fiber
yields than wood and require fewer chemicals to be processed,
less water, and energy.
Farmers would benefit
from new income from those residues that would otherwise
be burned. There would be new opportunities for value-added
rotational crops; new uses for over 65 million acres
of idle farmland in the United States, such as is widely
found in the State of Minnesota; and new replacement
options for declining industries, such as tobacco. These
benefits to farmers and the environment cannot be fully
realized as long as logging subsidies give an unfair
advantage to wood at the expense of nonwoods and the
American farmer. - National Forest Protection Alliance
Other fiber sources do exist. In fact, many have been
around for centuries. They go by a number of terms:
tree-free, nonwood, alternative fibers, environmentally
preferable. Generally speaking, the tree-free papers
we're emphasizing in this book offer a number of environmental
advantages over wood-based varieties.
This is not to say that
we should no longer consume wood products of any kind.
In certain heavily forested regions of the country,
trees may remain the best choice of fibers. To this
end, sustainable forestry initiatives have emerged in
the last decade and the first U.S.-made papers containing
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) third-party certified
tree pulp debuted in October 1998. Forests certified
by FSC agencies adhere to strict guidelines that attempt
to balance selective management practices with watershed
and endangered species protection. - Imhoff 1999
think growing and cutting trees to make paper, in and
of itself, is not a bad thing. - Michael Snyder,
are the best source of virgin fiber for papermaking
(see question 60). Compared with alternatives (hemp,
kenaf, cotton), trees are much more environmentally-friendly.
In temperate climates annual crops require that the
soil be kept bare for 8-9 months of the year, and even
when crops are growing there is bare soil between the
rows. The sediment runoff from these agricultural lands
is orders of magnitude greater than from forestry. This
is reduced somewhat if cover crops are used, but the
sediment runoff is still far greater.
b. Alternatives are almost always are non-native
plants. In North America and Europe, trees grown for
paper are all native plants.
c. Chemical use (fertilization, pesticides)
is much lower for forestry.
d. Forestry can maintain habitat for all
except old growth species, whereas non-tree field crop
alternatives are essentially "non-habitat" for native
species. - Robert R. Bryan, Forest Ecologist, Maine
there are alternative fibres that produce high quality
paper, we need to develop use of these alternatives
for making paper. This does not mean that we cannot
cut any trees for paper making, but we can certainly
vastly reduce the number of trees cut for paper and
there should be no need to cut old growth forests to
make paper. - Susan Hammond, Executive Director,
Silva Forest Foundation
makes sense to obtain our fiber needs for papermaking
from trees. At the present time fiber from sustainably
managed forests provides the fiber needs for the industry
in the most efficient and environmentally conscious
manner. - Stora Enso