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WOOD BURNING
is not an ecological gesture

Wood burning and the environment

From an environmental point of view, burning wood is just as toxic to animals and plants as it is to humans. Many plant species are intolerant of pollution and impacts on animals are well documented. 

Campfires: an increased risk of forest fires.

Each year in Quebec, SOPFEU counts about sixty forest fires caused by campfires.These are hectares of forest that go up in smoke each year and seriously affect neighboring communities. Due to climate change, climate experts expect the increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions to promote the proliferation of wildfires across the country. ​

Environmental impact of residential wood combustion on greenhouse gases 

According to the latest data from the Quebec greenhouse gas inventory, wood heating contributed 0.83 Mt eq. CO2 (2020 total: 74.02), or approximately 1.1% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec for this period. In the residential sub-sector, wood heating represents 27.4% of total emissions (MELCCCFP, 2022) while very few households have wood as their main source of heating. This method of heating emits more methane than natural gas and fossil fuels, a gas whose global warming potential is 27 times greater than that of CO2. Therefore, residential wood heating is the main contributor to methane emissions, specifically in the residential sector.

Wood as a renewable energy?

The growing demand for wood for energy production leads to excessive exploitation of forests, leading to deforestation, loss of natural habitats and loss of biodiversity. This vicious circle cannot be called "renewable" when forest resources are exploited in an unsustainable way. It is imperative to reconsider our dependence on wood as a source of energy and to favor genuinely renewable and environmentally friendly alternatives.

It is essential to challenge the myth that using wood as energy is carbon neutral. Although some argue that wood is an eco-friendly alternative due to its ability to absorb carbon dioxide as it grows, it's crucial to look at the big picture. Burning wood immediately releases stored carbon, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.  CO2 emitted by burning biomass increases CO2 levels in the atmosphere at a time when we need to reduce emissions.

Firewood is rarely harvested from one's own yard. Once the wood is harvested by the forest industry, it undergoes a process of drying and transportation, requiring the use of fossil fuels, which adds to greenhouse gas emissions.

Even though wood is considered a renewable resource, it takes decades, if not centuries, for new plantations to reach full maturity and be able to offset the emissions generated by burning wood. In the context of the current climate emergency, this slowness in the renewal cycle does not allow a rapid and effective reduction of carbon emissions.

It would be better to continue to use wood where the material can really be valued: in construction and lumber. 

Tronc d’arbre haché
"The cost of protecting the natural environment is much lower than the cost of restoring it. The defense of nature is profitable for nations."

- Philippe Saint-Marc

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