The Hybrid Trees Weyerhaeuser Plants, Absorb More Carbon Dioxide Than Did the Trees It Cuts Down

(p. A1) KIBBY TOWNSHIP, Maine—Weyerhaeuser Co. has cut down more trees than any other American company since its founder started logging before the Civil War. Environmentalists have long treated it as an enemy.

Now, the new math of carbon emissions is enabling the lumber producer to cast itself as something quite different: a force for environmental good.

Its 10.6 million acres of U.S. timberland act as a giant sponge for carbon dioxide, which Weyerhaeuser says more than compensates for the greenhouse gases it emits by felling trees, sawing them into lumber and distributing wood products.

Although Weyerhaeuser is cutting down as many trees as ever and plans to increase lumber production 5% in the next few years, it says its net carbon footprint is negative—so much so that it is offering carbon dioxide storage capacity to other companies. Weyerhaeuser expects a new unit dedicated to helping other firms offset their emissions to generate $100 million a year in profit by the end of 2025.

“I don’t think there are many companies in the world with a better environmental (p. A8) story than Weyerhaeuser,” said Devin Stockfish, chief executive officer of the Seattle-based company. “The moment is really ripe for us.”

. . .

Weyerhaeuser logs about 2% of its land each year and plants more than 130 million saplings a year to replace much of what it cuts. Company scientists have selectively bred trees over the decades to grow bigger, faster and better for lumber-making than the ones they replace. The company says those new breeds will sock away carbon dioxide faster than the ones cut down, allowing it to boost sequestration and wood production at the same time.

“There is a pretty significant difference in the genetics of the trees that we grow versus what would have grown naturally,” Mr. Stockfish said.

For the full story, see:

Ryan Dezember. “Logger Recasts Itself As Climate Friendly.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 18, 2023): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 17, 2023, and has the title “America’s Most Prolific Logger Recasts Itself as Environmental Do-Gooder.”)

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