A scoping review of human health co-benefits of forest-based climate change mitigation in Europe

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Climate change is a pressing global challenge with profound implications for human health. Forest-based climate change mitigation strategies, such as afforestation, reforestation, and sustainable forest management, offer promising solutions to mitigate climate change and simultaneously yield substantial co-benefits for human health. The objective of this scoping review was to examine research trends related to the interdisciplinary nexus between forests as carbon sinks and human health co-benefits. We developed a conceptual framework model, supporting the inclusion of exposure pathways, such as recreational opportunities or aesthetic experiences, in the co-benefit context. We used a scoping review methodology to identify the proportion of European research on forest-based mitigation strategies that acknowledge the interconnection between mitigation strategies and human impacts. We also aimed to assess whether synergies and trade-offs between forest-based carbon sink capacity and human co-benefits has been analysed and quantified. From the initial 4,062 records retrieved, 349 reports analysed European forest management principles and factors related to climate change mitigation capacity. Of those, 97 studies acknowledged human co-benefits and 13 studies quantified the impacts on exposure pathways or health co-benefits and were included for full review. Our analysis demonstrates that there is potential for synergies related to optimising carbon sink capacity together with human co-benefits, but there is currently a lack of holistic research approaches assessing these interrelationships. We suggest enhanced interdisciplinary efforts, using for example multideterminant modelling approaches, to advance evidence and understanding of the forest and health nexus in the context of climate change mitigation.

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Matilda van den Bosch, María Lucía Bartolomeu, Sarah Williams, Corina Basnou, Ian Hamilton, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Joan Pino, Cathryn Tonne, A scoping review of human health co-benefits of forest-based climate change mitigation in Europe, Environment International, Volume 186, 2024, 108593, ISSN 0160-4120, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2024.108593 .