A research study conducted by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) reveals that rising consumer awareness of environmental issues will increase uptake in the forestry and wood products industry. Conducted by Sydney firm Pollinate during May 2016, the study is part of FWPA’s annual consumer research studies designed to monitor the market for wood and wood products. The results of these studies not only provide information about how people perceive and use wood, but also deliver insights into how consumers regard the relationship between the forest and wood products industry and the environment.

Research into consumer perceptions around the environment and climate change indicate that forestry and wood products are increasingly viewed as making positive contributions to carbon sequestration and emissions reduction. Results from the May 2016 study suggest that fostering consumer understanding of the carbon sequestering potential of forest and wood products could increase their usage.

Australians are increasingly aware of, and concerned about climate change, with more than half of the respondents feeling that the issue is serious (85%) and needs to be addressed immediately (51%). Corresponding with upward trends in climate change beliefs, more Australians are engaging with the green products and services markets, with more than half making greater efforts to purchase ‘green’ products. This uptake of ethical consumption holds significant potential for the forest and wood products industry as more consumers actively seek out sustainable products across different categories.

Australians also exhibited increased understanding of the environmental benefits of trees in the context of climate change. The latest research reveals that there is widespread awareness of the sequestration properties of wood, particularly the ability of trees to absorb atmospheric carbon. Knowledge of the carbon storing capacity of harvested wood or wood products in the home is somewhat lower, although the overall trend indicates high receptivity to messaging around these benefits.

Given the growing concerns over climate change and very high knowledge of wood’s carbon sequestering benefits, there has been a sharp corresponding increase in support for the use of wood as a sustainable material. Almost 70% of respondents believe Australians should ‘use more wood because it’s more environmentally friendly’ when compared with alternative materials. Farming and harvesting are perceived positively as natural parts of wood production, and more than 80% of Australians believe cutting down trees is acceptable as long as they are replaced.

As more Australians begin to engage with green consumption, the sharp upward trend in timber and wood product usage can be expected to sustain.