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The EU Environment Council will vote on the LULUCF Regulation on 13th October. The proposed Regulation by Estonian presidency supports an active forest management and allows increased harvest levels to substitute fossil-derived fuels and products with wood and bioenergy. The scientists state that the LULUCF Regulation may be counterproductive in its current form.

“Increased harvest levels leads to greater greenhouse gas emissions and reduced carbon sink. The substitution effect of using wood instead of fossil-derived products is misleading since most of the wood products are short-lived, such as paper, disposable packing and bioenergy. Bioenergy may release more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than fossil fuels. In general, our production and consumption of both short-lived wood products and fossil fuels need to be reduced,” said Timo Vesala, Professor of Meteorology, University of Helsinki.

The scientists’ state that the climate impacts of forests should be fully accounted for under LULUCF regulation. Also incentives should be given to long-lived wood products and further safeguards should be set under the Renewable Energy Directive to limit energy use of wood. They indicate that the maintenance and increase in the EU forest sink needs to be promoted and that deforestation needs to be actively discouraged in EU.

“The conversion of natural forest to tree plantations needs to be stopped. The expanding monoculture plantations increase the risks and are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than diverse forests. Mixed forests with more deciduous trees are needed to support the biodiversity, increase the resilience, and to provide a greater number of important ecosystem services,” said Stig-Olof Holm, Associate Professor in Ecology, Umeå University, Sweden.

The scientists’ stress that natural forests and old-growth forests are important for the protection of biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change.

“Forests harbour almost two-thirds of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Given that importance, it is not surprising that deforestation is the major driver of species extinction. Europe has very little forest remaining and what there is tends to be fragmented or turned into plantations of very young trees,” said Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation, Duke University, USA.

“Estonian proposal for LULUCF Regulation promotes increasing harvesting levels and decrease in the forest sink. This is putting biodiversity at even greater risk and so exacerbating this environmental crisis. Effective policies to protect forests, especially old growth ones, and the species that are unique to them are essential and needed urgently,” Professor Pimm continues.

Many renowned scientists from Europe, North America and Australia, specialized in the fields of Geography, Environmental science, Biology and Economy, have signed the open letter.

The open letter can be found HERE!