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The contribution of forest management to climate action: pathways, trade-offs and co-benefits

Proposals under this topic should develop a comprehensive assessment of different pathways of the European forest GHG balance in view of the reviewed 2030 and 2050 climate targets and other relevant EU environmental legislation and objectives incorporating:

  • Biodiversity goals consistent with the EU Green Deal objectives and Biodiversity Strategy 2030 goals. Issues considered include the use non-native tree species, intensive thinning, transition between intensive and close-to-nature silviculture, and strict protection of forests.
  • Uncertainties related to climate change and natural disturbances risks.
  • Adaptation needs of existing and future forests, including factors determining their adaptation potential.
  • Mitigation potential of afforestation and other forest activities including their opportunity costs.
  • GHG impact of forest bioeconomy, including substitution effect of forest-based products and energy against realistic counterfactuals and with appropriate time dynamics.
  • Renewable energy targets and the needs of forest-based bioeconomy for sustainable domestically-sourced feedstock.
  • Biophysical effects, including changes in air temperature and precipitation associated to changes in surface albedo, land-surface properties, emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds, transpiration and heat flux.
  • Assessment of trade-offs and synergies between climate-oriented forest management, and other objectives, for example recreational and amenity values;

Having such models/assessment at their disposal and understanding their time dynamics, uncertainties and system boundaries, policy-makers will be better suited to incorporate forests in the design and evaluation of possible solutions and pathways for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Monitoring and reporting on changes to forest carbon stocks is essential for policymakers (both national and European) in order to be informed of trends in the forest sink evolution and to develop annual approximated greenhouse gas inventories. Actions should support the use of higher tier (and higher accuracy) methodologies and geographically explicit land-use data in accordance with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories[[https://www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/2006gl/vol4.html]] and its 2019 Refinement[[https://www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/2019rf/vol4.html]]. Especially needed are actions to fill existing gaps resulting from inventory bias towards the most economically relevant tree species and carbon pools.

Proposals under this topic should therefore aim to develop knowledge, tools, models, databases and country- and region-specific values available to Member States and Associated Countries, where possible integrating with Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and climate models to improve monitoring and reporting of forest carbon pools. Remote sensing data sets can be helpful in estimating or verifying forest living biomass gains and losses, forest area changes, forest health status and in identifying carbon-rich old-growth forests or natural disturbances. Sample-based systems, on the other hand, should support mapping changes in other forest carbon pools such as soil organic carbon in mineral and organic soils, and dead organic matter. More robust estimation of fluxes among these forest carbon pools, which are often neglected in greenhouse gas inventories, will assist in estimating their importance as carbon reservoirs and the role that forest management can play in enhancing them, taking into account biodiversity needs and resilience. Considering biophysical effects will improve the understanding of trade-offs among climate objectives and their articulation with forest management practices.

Actions should envisage coordinating activities with other relevant actions, initiatives and programmes, including Horizon 2020 Work Programmes and the LIFE Programme, COPERNICUS and relevant research infrastructures to promote synergies, integration and co-operation. They should make use and contribute to knowledge exchange and networking European platforms and consider devising a novel decision-making platform to ensure effective dissemination of the results to the target stakeholders (i.e. policy-makers and relevant national competent authorities). Cooperation and planning for further exploitation of actions results during and after the project end is strongly encouraged.