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Spotting the missing link in decarbonisation goals

Climate-Smart Forestry, as suggested by BioMonitor partner EFI in a new publication to be released in Forest Policy and Economics’ June 2020 issue, is the missing component in national strategies that are supposed to meet the Paris Agreement.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment
Food and Natural Resources icon Food and Natural Resources

Forests matter a great deal to us: other than acting as carbon sinks, they also provide wood-based materials, thus eradicating our need for fossil-intensive materials and resources. Led by Hans Verkerk from the European Forest Institute (EFI), a partner of the BioMonitor project, the recent paper explores the utmost importance of including Climate-Smart Forestry in national strategies as it supports countries meeting the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. Which pill do we choose for our forests? Neo was offered two choices in the Matrix film, to take the red pill or the blue pill. In this case, we are given two contrasting plans of action for our forests’ future: either by maintaining or by exploiting them. Unlike the film, if we get the best of both choices, our forests may successfully decarbonise our planet and our economy. Climate-Smart Forestry (CSF) provides a holistic approach to forest management. “We see CSF as the missing link between the mitigation and adaption measures that policymakers must introduce in their respective countries,” says Hans Verkerk. CSF has three founding principles (as cited in this paper): • Increasing carbon storage in forests and wood products, in conjunction with the provisioning of other ecosystem services; • Enhancing the health and resilience through adaptive forest management; • Using wood resources sustainably to substitute non-renewable materials. Successful development of CSF will support countries to fortify forest ecosystems’ resilience and meet their Nationally Determined Contributions while achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Two momentous events took place in the past couple of years. Europe has launched a new bioeconomy strategy focused on meeting the SDGs in 2018, and has announced its plan to be carbon neutral by 2050 through its Green Deal in 2019. By including bioeconomy in this decarbonisation plan, as mentioned by EFI director Marc Palahí in the institution’s blog, it may provide an opportunity for fossil-based industries to choose renewable resources, and to preserve nature and biodiversity other than promoting inclusive prosperity and fair social transition. Creating a sustainable bioeconomy using Climate-Smart Forestry Policy makers must adapt their strategies accordingly to meet these demands. By putting CSF in their strategies, countries will be able to find a balancing act between adaptation and mitigation measures for our forests. Three key messages have been formulated in the paper that will help legislators realise the full potential of the CSF in their forest policies. This will not only strengthen their forest-based bioeconomy but also make the climate resilient thus providing a sustainable future for their people in the long run. Click here to gain full access to their study. Reference: Verkerk P.J. Costanza R., Hetemäki L., Kubiszewski, I., Leskinen P., Nabuurs G.J. Potočnik J., Palahí M., 2020. Climate-Smart Forestry: the missing link. Forest Policy and Economics, Volume 115, June 2020


carbon sinks, decarbonise, fossil-intensive material, sustainable bioeconomy, climate-smart forestry