Rajat Panwar, associate professor of sustainable business management at Oregon State University, has co-authored an article in the latest issue of a long-running United Nations periodical.

The article, “Building a carbon-neutral circular bioeconomy with sustainable forest products,” appears in Unasylva, published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization since 1947.

Unasylva is the FAO’s journal of forestry and forest industries, produced with the goal of bringing globally significant developments in forestry to policymakers, forest managers, technicians, researchers, students and teachers.

In their article, Panwar and six coauthors from the FAO make policy recommendations for fully harnessing the potential of sustainable forest products, including:

  • Large-scale investment in sustainable production and consumption of forest-based materials, including investment in research and development to foster innovation for greater efficiencies.
  • Increased participation of communities and small landowners in forest sector value chains.
  • Explicit recognition of the need to substitute renewable materials for non-renewable materials.
  • Generation of accurate data to underpin policy and investment decisions with a focus on supply and demand dynamics.
  • Incentives for adoption of sustainable practices and disincentives for unsustainable practices.

“Three-quarters of current total material demand is met through non-renewable natural re- sources,” the authors note. “Changing unsustainable consumption patterns is necessary to avert a climate catastrophe. Transitioning to a forest-based circular bioeconomy can be a significant step in that direction.”

Last spring Panwar, the director of Oregon State’s sustainable natural resources graduate certificate program, helped the FAO assemble its flagship publication, The State of the World’s Forests.

He was a coauthor on the report’s third chapter: Three Interrelated Forest Pathways Could Contribute to Green Recovery and a Transition to Sustainable Economies.

“It is clearer than ever before that the increased utilization of wood products is critical to reducing global greenhouse emissions but only when these products are derived from sustainably managed forests,” Panwar said. “Wood products over their life cycle are linked to lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than products derived from materials that aren’t renewable.”

He said a review of scientific literature suggests that for every kilogram of carbon in wood products used in construction as opposed to non-wood products, carbon emissions are reduced by about 0.9 kilograms.