WPI Green

WPI – Building On Growth

Environmental care and the impact we all cause on the environment is a concern for us all.

Ernslaw One Ltd, and WPI as its subsidiary, takes very seriously the obligations to be good custodians of the forests owned and managed, and the production of environmentally friendly wood and pulp products.

Your support of Ernslaw One and WPI enables us to contribute positively to the care of the environment and the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Ernslaw One Limited / WPI and the Environment

With 94,834 hectares of sustainable plantation forests managed in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Ernslaw One Limited is the fourth largest forest estate owner in New Zealand.

Please view link to map on the information page.

Ernslaw One Ltd Forests and WPI play a positive part in the process of locking up (sequestration) of carbon and producing oxygen as a by product. This occurs during the active management of our forests and the production of products that contain stored carbon such as in logs, timber and pulp and other by products. The carbon remains stored for the lifetime of these products.

Forestry maximises the sequestration of carbon, through the planting of trees that take a number of years to reach maturity. Once the trees are harvested, the area is replanted which maintains this positive cycle, that ensures the absorption of greenhouse gases.

WPI is involved with bio-energy and residue recovery projects operating in the South Island. The wood processing sites have undertaken capital projects to reduce energy consumption, maximise energy usage and reduce waste.

Most recent examples of this include a project undertaken with Meridian energy that installed the technology to make a high grade pulp product using 27% less energy. In 2009 an award winning heat recovery project was completed at the Karioi Pulpmill and the Tangiwai sawmill completed the installation of a rail siding to allow rail freightage, eliminating 18 to 20 trucks with trailers on New Zealand roads, each week.

Understanding the Environmental Issues

The three key contributors to the changing atmospheric composition due to greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Worldwide, all three gases now have atmospheric concentrations well above their natural range.

The composition levels of the atmosphere has fluctuated over time, before human existence, due to the orientation and position of the earth in its orbit relative to the sun, and other factors such as geothermal, volcano’s, comets, asteroids, fires, and varying CO2 levels (carbon dioxide) due to plants on land, and the ocean.

The Antarctic ice cap has yielded the longest time series, showing that levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have all systematically varied – from lows during the ice ages to highs during the warm periods in between. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is less than half that which is stored on land and just 2% of that dissolved in the oceans.

Ancient CO2 removed by plants on land and in the ocean including ice, over tens of millions of years is now being released, in just a few short centuries.

Natural changes in CO2 are believed to have been crucial in controlling climate throughout geological time. The earth balances absorbed sunlight by continually radiating energy back into space in the form of invisible long wave infrared radiation. Carbon dioxide, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and water vapour are absorbers of this infrared radiation and send some of it back to the earth’s surface. This means that the atmosphere finds it more difficult to lose heat with this changing composition of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.

The second phenomenon relates to the reduced direct sunlight reaching the earth’s surface due to pollution, with pollution air particles changing the composition of clouds. Moisture clings to the pollution particles rather than to other moisture droplets changing the incidence and locality of rainfall, in some regions. These clouds also reflect the sunlight. Warmer clouds are able to hold additional moisture compared to cooler clouds.

The reduced direct sunlight reaching the earth has a direct effect on the rate of pan evaporation, in some effected regions, of the world. The rate of pan evaporation is proven to be decreasing over time, varying throughout different countries. Scientists term this phenomenon as “Global Dimming” which is working against global warming, in some regions; however both in combination are having consequences for the global climate.

It is not difficult to foresee the importance of plantation forestry and lower emissions from production of wood products, compared to other available substitutes such as steel and plastics.

The Forests – Carbon Dioxide being stored as Carbon, and producing Oxygen

The principle source of oxygen and conversion of carbon dioxide is biological, and called oxygenic photosynthesis. In this process certain bacteria and green plants convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen extracted from water, into organic matter using the energy from the sunlight.

This results in carbon storage, and oxygen released from the process as a by product.

The simple equation is:

Carbon dioxide + water + sunlight = organic matter + oxygen
Or in scientific terms: CO2 + H2O + sunlight = CH2O + O2

As an example the CO2 content of wood products is based on the mass of the oven dry wood matter, given an average of 450 kg/m3.

The carbon content is calculated as follows:

Half of oven dry wood mass is carbon so 1kg of dry wood equals 0.5kg carbon.
CO2 weighs 3.67 of the weight of carbon so 0.5kg carbon = 1.83kg CO2.
1kg Dry wood = approx 1.83kg of CO2 storage.

Today the air consists of 21% molecular oxygen (O2). Respiration, decaying of organic matter, geothermal activity (hydrogen oxidizes to form water vapour) and oxidative weathering, all consume oxygen.

The forests not only lock carbon dioxide into carbon, but also produce oxygen as part of the process.