Manage EU forests more sustainably every year could absorb double the carbon dioxide (CO2), according to a new study commissioned by Greenpeace Germany from the independent research institute Natural Forest Academy. Indeed, if the exploitation of the increase in “natural capital” constituted by forests in the EU were reduced by a third, biodiversity would increase, Forests would become more resilient to climate change and CO2 absorption potential could increase from 245.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year to 487.8 million tonnes (approximately equivalent to the annual emissions of France) ‘. It’s still, if the exploitation rate were limited to 50%, European forests could grow, regenerate, host more species and increase resistance to extreme weather events.
EU forests have more potential than we believe in the fight against climate change and therefore should be protected and restored. Instead, “we prefer to cut them down and make firewood”, says Martina Borghi, forest campaign of Greenpeace Italy. “It is wrong to think that burning woody biomass of forest origin – that is wood, but also wood chips and pellets, which do not come from otherwise unusable waste – is a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels: the CO2 emitted by the combustion of the felled trees is not reabsorbed by other trees planted in their place ».
To allow EU forests to absorb more CO2 – the report reads – it is necessary, for example, to gradually eliminate deforestation aimed at the exploitation of timber intended for the production of energy, preferring truly renewable sources such as wind, water and the sun. In fact, between 2000 and 2018, the exploitation of wood and derivatives for energy production led to a 47% increase in timber harvesting in the Union, becoming the main driver of deforestation in the EU.
Artificial and young forests are unable to absorb the same amount of CO2 as mature or old natural forests, and indeed, “the more forests are exploited to produce timber, the less CO2 can be absorbed. Planting many trees and pretending to be a real forest is only greenwashing », concludes Borghi. Together with other NGOs, Greenpeace asks the European Commission to exclude the energy generated by the combustion of wood (with the exception of wood waste which cannot be recycled otherwise), from targets for renewable energy in the ongoing review of EU energy and climate policies. Greenpeace asks the EU to adopt a shared vision of EU forests with new binding targets for their restoration and protection, in order to significantly strengthen their CO2 absorption capacity.
December 22, 2020 (change December 24, 2020 | 13:42)