Manual Towards Forest Sustainability

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Wood can substitute for fossil fuels and carbon-intensive materials such as steel. And growing trees sequester carbon — photosynthesis absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and puts it in wood and soil.

Sustainable Forest Management

But European forests face an uncertain future. More frequent heat waves, droughts and fires are reducing their health and productivity, with the region warming faster than the global average 2. Urban sprawl, pollution and the expansion of transport, commercial and industrial infrastructure compound the climatic threats 3. Disturbances also outpace the extra plant growth that arises under higher concentrations of atmospheric CO 2. Since , the amount of wood produced annually across Europe has decreased by around 0.

The resulting picture has two sides: new forests are gaining ground and pushing up overall forest area, but existing stands are becoming less productive with age and damage. We outline five key issues that European forestry managers should address to develop Europe's forests sustainably and with resilience in mind 4. Policies and plans must account for the trade-offs between forests' capacity to store carbon, adapt to climate change and yield wood products and other ecosystem services.

Forest carbon sequestration needs to be incorporated into European Union EU mitigation schemes, including the EU Emissions Trading System, which currently considers only forest planting and regeneration.

Sustainable forest management

Incentives will be needed to double carbon-neutral biomass production by to meet Europe's renewable-energy needs. Payment schemes should be set up for a range of woodland services such as water storage and recreation.

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Many of these lessons apply to forest management in other parts of the world, including the United States and China. Plant resilient species. Woodland regeneration offers foresters a chance to manipulate the mix of species and quality of plants to better withstand long-term environmental changes.

Managers should plant species that tolerate a variety of climates, such as those that can grow over a range of latitudes and altitudes. Mixed stands are more resistant to pests and disturbances than those of single species, which succumb easily to such threats. They also shelter sensitive species such as beech that become vulnerable in warm, dry conditions. Germany, for example, is including beech and oak in its spruce and pine forests. Trees damaged by acid rain in the polluted 'black triangle' of the northern Czech Republic.

Plant breeders in nurseries and laboratories should increase the genetic diversity of stock and take steps to assure plant quality. They should foster traits such as the ability to adapt to higher CO 2 concentrations, warmer temperatures or longer periods of water stress. Programmes for conserving genetic resources, such as those established for Mediterranean pines, the European chestnut and several oak and poplar species, should be strengthened.

The Path to Sustainability | New England Forestry Foundation

Guidelines for plant production in nurseries need updating. These are usually generic — designed for a stable climate rather than local or varying conditions.

The selection of genetic material and nursery practices should aim to increase the survival rate of stock. For instance, to lower the water stress of seedlings, moisture-preserving chemicals should be used more widely in seedling production, transport and planting. Several nations, including the United Kingdom and France, have defined areas where only local variants of trees should be planted.

Best practice should involve: first, testing the provenance of seeds and assessing the genetic variation among populations; and second, analysis of climate trends to decide when it makes sense to transfer species from south to north 5.


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Silver-fir seeds from southern Europe are increasingly being planted farther north, for example. Promote carbon storage. Forestry Communication Toolkit.


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Key Facts In , forests covered about Fire, forest pests and climate change are also contributing to degradation and loss of forests around the world. Forests play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle, influencing the availability of water, regulating surface and groundwater flows, and maintaining high water quality. Forests and trees reduce water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization. General Assembly. Follow Us. Work for Us. Support Us. Certified Forests. About FSC. Our Labels.

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