Hans Verkerk in an interview on the climate change status quo and research pathways

12 January 2024

The EU-funded project Forwards recently conducted an interview published on the Science X media-website network, featuring European project coordinators and partners. Expert participants include Hans Verkerk, the principal scientist in the Bioeconomy programme at the European Forest Institute, partner in Forwards and coordinator of ForestPaths, as well as Ruben Valbuena, Professor of Remote Sensing of Forests at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science and project coordinator for Forwards. The interview emphasises the crucial role of forests in addressing climate change and achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement.

Hans Verkerk states that, "[forests] are crucial to achieving climate change mitigation because they are the only proven land-based system that removes CO₂ from the atmosphere". The specific process that helps to remove carbon dioxide occurs when trees store the compound within their trunks, foliage, and roots, which is then transferred to the soil. The effect of this separation can greatly aid the success of the already set carbon neutrality goal that is aimed for 2050, as is further argued by EFI’s new report, revealing that European forests alone can remove approximately 10% of the EU's total greenhouse emissions. 

However, due to climate change, and other naturally-occurring factors, forests are being depleted - meaning that greater amounts of greenhouse emissions are being released without the help of forests to mitigate said release. Hence, it is vital to monitor the pace of growth, health conditions, and development of European forests - a task done by ForestWard Observatory, currently under development in Forwards. 

The project plans to implement "Climate smart-forestry," a targeted strategy to enhance climate benefits by bolstering forests' resilience and productivity alongside “management pilots”, which test new techniques, diversification effects on resilience, and climate change impacts. 

The interview will also be published in several multimedia outlets in the coming days, such as Cordis, EU Agenda, AlphaGalileo, and

Read the full interview here