Conservation and Environment
The carbon in this piece of wood is equivalent to... Wraysbury bi-annual news - pdf reader required

‘How much carbon is in a tree?’ is a common question and not one that’s easy to answer in a way most of us can relate to. 

Recent work by Forest Research sought not only to answer this, but to go one stage further by equating specific amounts of wood to everyday activities that use energy.

Based on Sitka spruce timber, the following comparisons show how much carbon we can store in wood to balance out the carbon emitted by energy usage:


Horse Chestnut



Forest Research


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  • A 5 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm block of wood contains the same amount of carbon as would be emitted by boiling a kettle of water or driving a moped 1 km.
  • One cubic metre of timber compares to two return flights to the Mediterranean or driving an HGV from London to Edinburgh.
  • Six cubic metres of timber (i.e. a timber-framed house) is equivalent to driving an average petrol car for a year (11,000 miles).

These examples show how forestry can help mitigate climate change by storing the same amount of carbon in trees as is emitted through energy usage. They also make it easier to visualise energy use and potential savings, such as only boiling as much water as you need or driving less. This work was recently presented to Members of Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh by Forestry Commission Scotland as part of their ‘Forestry Matters’ event.

Tim Randle

Forestry Matters is published by Forestry Commission Scotland – for details, contact Steve Penny, Research Liaison Officer (Scotland).
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