EFISCEN: Modelling the future development of forests

The European Forest Information Scenario model (EFISCEN) is one of EFI’s longest-running projects. The model has been jointly developed and applied at EFI and Alterra since 1996. 

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The EFISCEN team in the 1990s

It’s a large-scale forest scenario model, which assesses the availability of wood and is used to gain insights into the future development of forests on regional and European scales. The model is mostly used to evaluate and compare different policy and forest management scenarios, for example looking at things like:

  • Sustainable management regimes
  • Wood production possibilities
  • Nature-oriented management
  • Climate change impacts
  • Natural disturbances, eg forest fire risk
  • Carbon balance issues

The model’s outputs include information about forest resources like forest area, stem wood volume, potential wood removals etc. It uses a detailed forest inventory database, which is based on the individual national forest inventories of 32 European countries. This gives insights at a variety of scales – so the information is useful to all kinds of people, from forest managers to policy makers at national and international levels.

Consequently, the model has been used in a wide variety of projects and studies, including:

  • EFORWOOD (Tools for Sustainability Impact Assessment of the Forestry-Wood Chain)
  • VOLANTE (Visions of Land Use Transitions in Europe)
  • A study for the European Commission DG Energy to study wood and biomass potentials for material and energy use in all European Union member states
  • In the UNECE and FAO European Forest Sector Outlook Study (EFSOS II) to assess forest resource development for all European countries
  • In a study for the European Commission DG Climate Action to develop carbon sequestration reference levels for 14 European countries as part of the international climate negotiations

“EFISCEN, the ‘European Forest Information Scenario Model’ is a longterm multi-facet simulation platform that started before EFI’s creation, in Sweden and at IIASA – another networking Institute – and that was continued thanks to EFI and several partners. There were multiple outcomes of EFISCEN, and it is, today more than ever, critical to be able to simulate the future of European forest resources, at various scales and according to alternative economic, energetic, biodiversity or climatic scenarios. For example, I would like to stress the fact that there is still a lack of modelling platforms that couple agriculture and forestry. It is thus important that EFISCEN continues and has become an e-facility within the Trees4Future European research infrastructure.”
François Houllier, INRA