How much wood do we use and how do we use it? Estimating Danish wood flows, circularity, and cascading using national material flow accounts

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Understanding how much wood we use and how we use it has important implications for forest management, economic policy, and climate action. While individual wood streams are documented by various sources, a comprehensive, economy-wide mapping of wood use has been lacking in Denmark. Our study set out to produce a comprehensive national wood flow analysis for all wood products, to include harvest, import, export, and domestic flows through the economy, as well as to assess the level of circular and cascading wood resource use. We used the Physical Supply-Use Tables compiled by Statistics Denmark in combination with other sources to construct wood flows in m3 solid wood equivalent (SWE), enabling comparison throughout the processing chain with the standing natural resource. We estimated total Danish use of wood fibre in 2018 to be around 17.7 million m3 SWE, of which more than 15 million m3 was used for energy production. Most wood used in Denmark is imported, with a net import of more than 11 million m3 SWE. Apart from energy use the domestic wood processing, construction, and furniture industries are the largest users. By using mass balancing principles, we identified significant undocumented flows of wood from nature to the economy which are currently used for energy purposes, representing more than 1 million m3 SWE per year from 2015 to 2021, and we estimated the output of secondary wood products from the wood industry to be around 400,000 m3 SWE in 2018. According to Eurostat's Circular Material Use rate indicator, 8.4% of wood used is recycled and reused domestically, though with imported wood for energy excluded, the rate would be higher, around 17.8%. The overall cascading factor for wood in the Danish economy was calculated to 1.44, indicating that wood is used almost one and a half times before oxidation or final consumption. Ongoing monitoring of Danish wood flows would permit further analysis of any changes in patterns of use and reuse, and our estimates of wood flows could likely be improved with investigation of currently undocumented streams and country specific conversion factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138720
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Cascading, Circularity, Physical supply use tables, Solid wood equivalent, Wood flow, Wood use

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