ForestPaths introduced at ThinkForest webinar

26 September 2022

This news item has originally been published by the European Forest Institute. You can read it here.

The recent ThinkForest event brought together scientists, architects and policymakers to explore how forests and wood use can help meet climate goals.

Janez Potocnik, the ThinkForest president, opened the webinar by reflecting on the many current crises and challenges, pointing out that the best and most efficient way to link and boost solutions to any crises is always to improve resilience.

Dr Hans Verkerk, Principal Scientist at EFI, presented the results of a new EFI study on ‘Forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe’ that he coordinated. The report analyses how much forests and wood use can contribute to climate change mitigation, and how that contribution can be maximised. The multidisciplinary team of 12 authors from 7 countries conclude that European forests and wood products can provide a significant contribution to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 - but their contribution is finite and can by no means compensate for delayed actions in other sectors.

Related policy and management strategies should not just focus on one activity. Combining all possible mitigation activities will maximise forest-based mitigation potential. However, the mitigation pathways depend on where you are – as forests across countries and regions differ, so too should implementation strategies.

A lively panel discussion on implementation highlighted further some of the issues raised in the report. Panellists emphasised that the diversity of systems across the EU has to be respected, and that we do not have a single recipe for all Europe – interventions have to be customized to the local context and have to reconcile various expectations across the landscape. Policies targeted to single goals will not deliver.

Panel discussions also emphasised that solid monitoring and reliable data is key, to be able to evaluate carefully the impacts of mitigation activities and assess what is a success. We need to measure better to manage better! In addition, planning is vital - it is important to integrate forest resilience and climate adaptation in any climate mitigation adaptation, and it has to be planned beyond 2050.

The panellists also emphasised that sharing of knowledge is key (for example via very recently started EU research projects like ForestPaths), and that here common terminology and understanding is needed. Communicating the complexity of the topic is crucial, especially as mitigation and adaption needs local stakeholders. For example, in the built environment and construction taking account of the circularity of whole value chains (including e.g., production of materials to eco-design to waste management and reuse) are important, together with reference projects. This could help overcome cultural barriers e.g., towards the use of engineered wood products.

Rach Colling, Head of Communications at the European Forest Institute, and Hans Verkerk, ForestPaths' coordinator, at the ThinkForest webinar