Forests and Nature Based Solutions: Address the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergencies Together

A Letter in support of the New EU Forest Strategy post-2020

Sent to
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans
Commissioners Kadri Simson, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Jutta Urpilainen, Thiery Breton and Janusz Wojciechowski

By 62 Global Scientists

Provisions of the recent draft of the New EU Forest Strategy post-2020 have been heavily criticized by some members of the European forestry industry. The analysis of the specific challenges posed by the Swedish Forestry Association have been analyzed and 62 scientists from the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and Iran endorse the attached, 2-page document that summarizes our findings.

We fundamentally disagree with the four points that are made in the Swedish Forestry Industry critique and the additional argument that forest bioenergy does not create a carbon debt. The forest industry points are inconsistent with science-based evidence and knowledge of forest ecosystems, forestry, and climate change. It is important that the major structure of the draft New EU Forest Strategy be retained and that an appropriate share of EU forests be utilized to respond to the urgent climate – biodiversity emergency.

The recent joint report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change make clear that climate change and biodiversity are part of the same problem and natural climate solutions that address both these emergencies are essential for solving either of them. The draft New EU Forestry Strategy-post 2020 is consistent with the conclusions of the joint report that a political entity like the EU should set consistent operating principles for forest management.

As our analysis makes clear, there is great potential for EU forests to accumulate significant amounts of carbon during the next 30 critical years and beyond to 2100 simultaneously as greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly being reduced. Both slowing emissions and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide are essential requirements to avoid catastrophic losses. Forest accumulation of carbon out of the atmosphere can be accomplished while maintaining a viable forest products industry by protecting the relatively small amount of remaining primary forests and an appropriate share of remaining, biodiverse secondary forests, and curbing harvesting for bioenergy.

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