Forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe

A new publication from EFI’s “From Science to Policy” series showcases how forests and wood use can help Europe meet its climate goals.

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Wood construction
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The European Forest Institute (EFI) published a new study with the title Forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe in the From Science to Policy series. This analysis focuses on the role of forests and wood use in contributing to mitigate climate change. The 12 authors from 7 different countries conclude that European forests and wood products can play a crucial role in achieving climate neutrality by 2050. However, their potential is not enough to compensate for a lack of actions in other areas.

At present, forests and wood products are responsible for the removal of 10% of the total of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. As part of the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) sector, they contribute to the removal of 256 MtCO2eq/year. To meet European targets, the sector must remove an additional 170 MtCO2eq/year by 2050. This study reviewed the available scientific literature and concluded that the additional mitigation potential of forests (considering avoided deforestation, afforestation/reforestation, shifts in wood use, and cascading) in the EU could reach 72 MtCO2eq/year by 2050. This potential could significantly increase if combined with forest conservation activities, other active forest management, or decreasing forest harvest.

However, climate change can affect the capacity of forests and wood products to remove and store carbon. Furthermore, the availability of information on related costs and feasibility of concretising this potential is still low, increasing the uncertainty in this area.

In any case, the authors decided to explore how to maximise the effectiveness of forests contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The study recommends the adoption of a holistic approach, where multiple forest-base mitigation actions are combined to foster synergies, interactions, co-benefits, and regional applicability.

Read the full open access study

Download the associated policy brief

Reference

Verkerk, P.J., Delacote, P., Hurmekoski, E., Kunttu, J., Matthews, R., Mäkipää, R., Mosley, F., Perugini, L., Reyer, C. P. O., Roe, S., Trømborg, E. 2022. Forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe. From Science to Policy 14. European Forest Institute https://doi.org/10.36333/fs14