Mitigation effects of EU forests could nearly double through Climate Smart Forestry

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A team of researchers from EFI and five of its member organisations has published a paper looking at the potential climate change mitigation effects of EU forests. European forests and the forest-based sector are already contributing significantly to climate change mitigation and substitution for fossil raw materials. They conclude that they have the potential via the concept of Climate Smart Forestry to nearly double the mitigation effects by 2050.

In July 2016, the European Commission (EC) published a legislative proposal for incorporating greenhouse gas emissions and removals due to Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) into its 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. The Climate and Energy Framework aims at a total emission reduction of 40% by 2030 for all sectors together as part of the Paris Agreement.

The researchers found that the forest share of the LULUCF sector can achieve much more than what is in the regulation now. They set out a strategy for unlocking EU forests and forest sector potential based on the concept of “Climate Smart Forestry”.

To date, European policy has not firmly integrated forest potential into the EU climate policy framework. Nor have climate objectives been firmly integrated into those of the forest and forest sector at either the EU or national level. Yet a wide range of measures can be applied to provide positive incentives for more firmly integrating these climate objectives into the forest and forest sector framework.

With the right set of incentives in place at EU and Member States levels, they found that the current literature supports the view that the EU has the potential to achieve an additional combined mitigation impact through Climate Smart Forestry of 441 Mt CO2/year by 2050. In addition, Climate Smart Forestry tackles multiple policy goals through reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting and building forest resilience, and sustainably increasing forest productivity and incomes.

The article is open access and can be read here.

Full reference:

Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Philippe Delacote, David Ellison, Marc Hanewinkel, Lauri Hetemäki, Marcus Lindner  and Markku Ollikainen. 2017. By 2020 the Mititgation Effects of EU Forests Could Nearly Double Through Climate Smart Forestry. Forests 2017, 8(12), 484; doi:10.3390/f8120484

More information: Lauri Hetemäki, European Forest Institute (firstname.lastname @

Background reading:

Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Philippe Delacote, David Ellison, Marc Hanewinkel, Marcus Lindner, Martin Nesbit, Markku Ollikainen and Annalisa Savaresi. 2015. A new role for forests and the forest sector in the EU post-2020 climate targets . From Science to Policy 2. European Forest Institute.

This paper was funded by EFI's Multi-Donor Trust Fund for policy support, which is supported by the Governments of Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden. Financial support was also received from the FORBIO project (No. 14970) funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland.