FORESIGHT: Forest Renewables Replacing Fossil based and GHG-Intensive Products - Possible Action for Substitution to Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals

Use of forests and forest products is projected to increase substantially over the next decade. First, as economies develop so do their consumption of forest products. Second, there is increasing global recognition of the potential for forest products to contribute to climate mitigation by storing sequestered carbon in harvested wood products and through substitution of fossil-based or GHG-intensive products. Third, wood and other forest products are being recognized for their human health benefits, e.g. through the consumption of wild nutritious foods or the contribution of forest products to biophilia.

There is strong support and good understanding of the lower emissions of forest products when compared with their non-wood equivalents. There is, however, less comprehensive agreement and understanding on other aspects of increased forest products use including the impact on forests and forest soil sinks, permanence of forest sinks and biodiversity. While the climate mitigation impacts of harvested wood products can be estimated, the impacts of emerging forest products such as textiles and packaging are less well understood. It is also important that when promoting the substitution of forest products their impact on the multitude of sustainable development goals (SDGs) are considered.

Further, with the likely increased demand of forest-based products comes an increased need for raw material supply. It is important that, as forest products are promoted as a possible substitute for fossil-based and GHG-intensive products, the sector has a good understanding of how it might sustainably meet an expected increased demand for its products in the future.

FORESIGHT aims to:

  • Understand the environmental, social and economic benefits (and/or gaps in knowledge) of the substitution effects provided by forest products;
  • Describe the role that forest products may play in the emerging bioeconomy;
  • Provide high level insight into the supply / demand dynamics of the forest product sector and the considerations that need to occur to ensure forest products can be sustainably supplied.

FORESIGHT will identify opportunities and constraints related to the development of higher degree of forest and wood utilization, including wider product ranges and more advanced forest and wood products as a means to support countries reaching the nationally determined contributions of the Paris Agreement as well as the SDGs, Global Forest Goal 2 and moving towards carbon balance goals and improved livelihoods.

Project management
hans.verkerk @
European Forest Institute
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