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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Motivation for Creating CORRIM

Public interest in the environmental impacts of forest management has reached new heights, resulting in a demand for strategies and policies to improve environmental performance. Unfortunately, environmental consequences of changes in forest management, product manufacturing, and construction are poorly understood, resulting in policies that may be detrimental to global environmental quality. This situation is greatly accentuated by an almost total lack of up-to-date, scientifically sound, product life-cycle data in the United States, particularly life-cycle data regarding wood and bio-based products.

Concerns about forests and wood products have a direct and significant impact on U.S. building materials and home building industries. Harvest reductions are quickly reflected in the availability of wood, and in turn, the price of building materials. This triggers consumers to import wood from other countries or to use non-wood substitutes. The environmental consequences of these changes in material flow and uses are generally ignored given the lack of useful data.

Decisions that discourage the use of wood are made each day at all levels of industry and government. While decisions may be motivated by a desire to protect the environment, the negative consequences associated with using non-wood substitutes are often not considered.

The decision to avoid using wood building materials may in fact be counterproductive to the intent. It is critical that a better information base of quantitative data regarding the environmental impacts of a variety of building products be developed.