There has been a raging debate on the environmental friendliness of using wood as a building material. The metal and plastic industry has lobbied against using wood for construction, citing cutting of trees as harmful to the environment. This notion has taken deep roots in the perception of the general public. On the contrary, thorough scientific studies have revealed that wood is more environmentally friendly compared to metal, concrete or plastic even after taking into consideration energy consumption in growing, felling and end-use.This is because wood grows out of renewable sources of energy, sunlight and rain while requiring less energy intense processes in its application. Wood by and large is recyclable and creates large scale employment opportunities for farmers and craftsmen at the grassroots.On a global scale we need to focus on sustainable agro forestry to ensure that wood becomes available as a primary building material. A timber centric “green economy” can be a reality and is possible. Apart from direct timber benefits, trees balance the ecology by sinking carbon, retaining moisture, controlling soil erosion, reducing evaporation from the ground and providing shelter and food to a large number of insects, birds and fauna while they stand on earth. Tree roots penetrate the deeper layers of soil and allow rain water to percolate deep into the sub-soil. Many timber species provide food for human consumption while others provide fodder for cattle. Many of them have medicinal applications that cannot be duplicated by modern chemistry processes.
In short, an intelligent application of wood as a building material coupled with sustainable agro forestry practices to grow timber is the way forward for a sustainable and equitable future.