I used to assume that it was impossible to make furniture without having some detrimental effect on the planet. I had assumed that the planet must be better off having all timber left in the form of trees rather than made into products of any sort, but it turns out that isn’t necessarily the case.
It is clear that a large tree will be converting a lot more carbon dioxide into wood and oxygen ( to simplify the process somewhat) than a small sapling. There is a point however at which a tree becomes fully mature and will not be increasing in mass. Dr David Corke, Director, Organic Countryside CIC says;
“Whether a new forest is natural or planted, when it is mature it no longer has any good effect on CO2 levels: the rotting dead leaves and fallen trees release exactly the same amount of CO2 as the trees take in by photosynthesis. To make a mature forest a contributor to CO2 reduction you need to cut down the mature trees and use the wood for building (or burn it to replace fossil fuels). Then let the felled forest regrow.”
In other words, if you buy anything made from a mature tree, as long as that thing remains as a thing rather than being disposed of a few years down the line, then that is an excellent method of storing a quantity of carbon which could otherwise become a greenhouse gas.
Trees are usually only felled for timber when they have reached maturity.
It is important to remember that the production and processing of wood uses much less energy – known as embodied energy – than most other materials, giving wood products a significantly lower carbon footprint even before you consider the carbon storage aspect.