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.

The 11th International Beech Symposium (18-21 September 2018, Viterbo, Italy): Natural and Managed Beech Forests as Reference Ecosystems for the Sustainable Management of Forest Resources and the Conservation of Biodiversity

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About 80 scientists from 15 European countries, Turkey, Iran, Japan, Canada and USA joined the conference organized by the IUFRO Group 1.01.07 “Beech Ecology and silviculture” at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo (Italy) to present their research on beech biology and response to environmental factors, beech forest structure and dynamics, beech forest management, biodiversity and its conservation in beech forests. ITALIANO


Three invited keynote lectures (Neil Pederson from Harvard University, USA; Hanns Knapp from University of Greifswald, DE; Jacob Heilmann-Clausen, University of Copenhagen, DK) were accompanied by 43 oral presentations – among which 5 were selected as special talks with extra time – and 32 posters.

At the end of the second day, one hour was dedicated to an open round table discussion moderated da Pierre Ibish (University of Eberswalde, DE) and involving all invited speakers and sessions’ chairmen, focused on future priorities in beech forest research. On the last day, the participants visited the Monte Cimino UNESCO beech forest.

A group of participants remained for a 4-day post-conference fieldtrip to visit the UNESCO beech forests in the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, hosting the oldest European beech trees, and the Gargano National Park, with highly diverse refugial mixed beech forests.

The post-conference fieldtrip activities were reported on several newspapers and web media.

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