Climate Smart Forestry, the missing link

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The Paris Agreement and the latest IPCC Assessment Report (2018) emphasize urgent and efficient actions for climate change mitigation. This means that we must rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, also the use of fossil-based raw materials, energy and products.

A newly published report by Kauppi et al. addresses Climate Smart Forestry (CSF).  CSF is one approach for achieving these goals in forests and the forest sector. It is more than just storing carbon in forest ecosystems. It builds upon three main objectives: first, reducing the net emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; second, adapting and building forest resilience to climate change; and third, sustainably increasing forest productivity and economic welfare based on forestry. CSF can help to mitigate the EU’s CO2 emissions up to 20% by 2050 (see Nabuurs et al. 2017).

Implementing sustainable and resource-efficient methods of wood processing and consumption, while at the same time promoting the forest carbon sink and improving forest growth must become universal goals for the global Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry – LULUCF– sector.

Forest management should be regionally optimized within the EU and worldwide. For example, in some regions conservation and sink enhancement may be the priorities, while in other regions sustainable harvesting is preferred.

If industrial wood production in the EU slows down, the demand will be satisfied with forest products made outside the EU, where production methods may be ecologically less sustainable, less resource-efficient and less carbon-neutral. Instead, we must promote innovations and improve the resource-efficiency of making and distributing wood-based products in the EU. This will make an important contribution to climate change mitigation.

Climate policy is a top priority, yet it alone cannot dictate how we use forests. As emphasized by the latest IPCC (2018) assessment, climate policy targets must build on synergies with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. The better the climate mitigation measures in the forest support also the other needs we have for them, the wider will be the support for these mitigation measures.

In this report, the authors address the following questions:

  • What is the role of forests, forestry and forest-based industry – direct and indirect – in moving towards a fossil-free society?
  • When, where and how much wood can be harvested from forests?
  • When, where and how much can we save forest biomass (carbon) in forests?
  • How can we further improve the standards and efficiency of making and consuming wood-based products?

Finally, the report discusses the balance between supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural services from forest ecosystems.

Download the report here.

Recommended citation

Kauppi, P., Hanewinkel, M.,Lundmark, T., Nabuurs, GJ., Peltola, H., Trasobares, A. and Hetemäki, L. 2018. Climate Smart Forestry in Europe. European Forest Institute.