As forecasted product demand threatens forests, CSFEP offers a balancing approach

09 JUL 2021 – A new report predicting future forest product demand will far outweigh supply urges the EU to use land and forest products more strategically. With a holistic approach to forests to improve their environmental, social and economic benefits, the Climate Smart Forest Economy Program (CSFEP), an innovative initiative from EIT Climate-KIC and partners, may be well-positioned to help.

Environmental dialogues in Europe, especially among government leaders and policymakers, have expanded in recent years from energy to a more systemic understanding, including issues such as pollution and waste, biodiversity loss, deforestation and zoonotic disease (e.g. COVID-19), soil erosion and coastal flooding, food and water insecurity, and more.

Land—and specifically the forest—is the stage in which much of these issues unfold and are exacerbated. But responsible land use can also help mitigate or adapt to them. For example: Reforestation and rewilding can, among other things, help return species of plants and animals to ecosystems, remove carbon from the air, improve soil fertility, and reduce drought and flood risk.

Furthermore, as Europe transitions away from unsustainable products like fossil fuels, plastic packaging and high-carbon building materials such as concrete, biofuels and biomaterials (e.g. for paper packaging and timber buildings) emerge as attractive alternatives that can lower carbon emissions and waste.

How we use land and what we import, therefore, have emerged as critical questions that must be answered urgently, and correctly, in order to meet European net-zero targets and avoid burden shifting (e.g. consuming in a way that creates deforestation issues elsewhere).

CSFEP’s mission is to generate and disseminate knowledge, inspire and raise ambition of critical stakeholders from the public and private sector, and support initiatives that demonstrate how the sink, carbon storage, and fossil-carbon substitution (3S) functions of forests and forest products can be maximised.

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