EU forests could absorb twice as much CO2
If managed differently, the EU’s forests could absorb twice as much CO2 every year, according to new research by us. The study, commissioned by Greenpeace Germany, found that if logging in Europe’s forests was reduced by a third, their carbon absorption potential could be increased from 245.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year to 487.8 million tonnes – more than the entire annual domestic emissions of i.e. France – while simultaneously benefiting biodiversity and increasing the resilience of forests.
Currently, 77% of annual growth in the EU’s forests is harvested. The study found that the carbon absorption potential of these forests could be doubled if the harvesting rate was reduced to 50% of new growth. The trend is going in the opposite direction, however, as forest harvesting rates rose approximately 20% between 2000 and 2018.
Burning wood for energy is the biggest driver of growing harvesting rates in the EU, with a 47% increase in harvesting of wood for energy production between 2000 and 2018. Just by ending forest harvesting for energy use would allow an additional 210.5 million tonnes of CO2 to be absorbed annually by European forests.