It is well known that worldwide deforestation has a negative impact on the global environment. Forests play an important role in producing oxygen as well as retaining gases that create the greenhouse effect. Forests primarily absorb carbon dioxide, the major air pollutant released by the industrial activities. Energy production is the major source of environmental contamination. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, another issue this industrial sector must tackle is to decrease the use of fossil fuels by substituting them with renewable, environmentally friendly energy sources. One of the answers to these challenges is the utilization of biomass as energy sources. However, biomass-based fuels include short bolts, split round-wood, pulpwood, bark and by-products of sawmilling, which are the raw materials for the wood-based panel industry as well.Wood utilization of the forest products industry has a major impact on the delayed release of carbon dioxide stored in the wood. All over the world, just as in Hungary, the wood-based panel industry mainly uses low quality wood resources and turns them into value added products. The elongation of the life cycle of low quality wood materials decreases CO2 emissions, thus significantly contributing to environmental protection. Furthermore, it is assumed that raw material demand of the wood-based panel industry could be satisfied by focusing on sustainable forest management and well-planned reforestation. Additionally, special energy-plantations may provide extra wood resources, while waste and other non-usable parts of trees contribute to the effective and economic operation of biomass utilizing power-plants.
This paper summarizes the current situation of the Hungarian wood-based panel industry and discusses the effects of the panel manufacturing processes on the environment. Also, it outlines the possible future of this important segment of the forest products industry.