Sustainability and Climate Change

Head of Programme: Marcus Lindner

Climate change will affect all goods and services the forests provide. European forestry is also exposed to rapid changes in societal demands on the forest resources. Both trends challenge the sustainability of the forest-based sector.

Climate is expected to become more variable with greater risk of extreme weather conditions. As impacts of climate change will vary a great deal between different European regions, forestry will have to develop suitable adaptation strategies in different regions.

European forests serve multiple functions and provide a broad range of goods and services to society. Increasing societal demand for biodiversity protection and recreational use of forests will in the near future conflict with the increasing demand for wood for material and energy use. Thus there is substantial need for improved decision-making and communication support, which guides future forest resource management and use in Europe.

Sustainable development is a vital requirement for any activity within the forest and its subsequent production chains, markets and services. Environmental, economic and social aspects have to be considered in the decision making at all these levels.

The Sustainability and Climate Change Programme at EFI conducts policy-oriented research, and disseminates information on the following topics. Target users of our work include scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders.

Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation

We are a source of knowledge for observed and projected impacts of climate change on forests in Europe and studied different ways forests and forestry could adapt to climate change. Furthermore, the current and future role of European forests in climate change mitigation has been assessed.

Assessing goods and services provision from European forests

We study how changes in forest resource management affect the provisioning of forest goods and services. We are developing methods to quantify wood production, biomass potentials, carbon sequestration, deadwood (as an indicator of biodiversity), water yield, forest fire risk, and suitability for recreational use.

Sustainability Impact Assessments for the forest-based sector

We study how factors such as policy, management or technology development affect the sustainability of Forest Wood Chains. Using participatory methods for engaging stakeholders, sustainability impact assessment can facilitate the assessment of decision alternatives in resource use and value chain management.

Strategic tools used by the Programme:

The European Forest Information Scenario model (EFISCEN) is a large-scale forest scenario model that assesses the availability of wood and projects forest resource development on regional to European scale. The model is mostly used to evaluate and compare different policy and forest management scenarios. EFISCEN outputs consist of forest resource information such as forest area, stem wood volume, increment, age-class distribution, and potential wood removals. The model has been expanded to assess also carbon sequestration in forest biomass and soil, the amount of deadwood in forests as an indicator of biodiversity, forest fire risk, and preferences of forests for recreational use.

The Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment (ToSIA) has been developed by EFI since 2006. This new decision-support software tool will help policy makers, business planners and other stakeholders to make decisions on issues related to the use of forest resources and the production and consumption of wood products. ToSIA analyses Forest Wood Chains as chains of production processes which are linked by products. Each process is characterized using indicators of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The tool quantifies sustainability impacts of decision alternatives in policies, management or technology in a transparent way to offer an objective platform for communication and argumentation about sustainable development in the forest based sector.

The European Forest Institute-Global Trade Model (EFI-GTM) is a global forest sector model. The model simulates production and trade of wood and wood products and calculates equilibrium market prices with corresponding demand & supply quantities in 60 regions. Each country in Europe constitutes one region, and the rest of the world is divided into 30 regions. The model is operated by the European Forest Institute in Joensuu, Finland and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. The model has been used to analyse the economic impacts of accelerating forest growth in Europe, increased biodiversity protection in forestry, the introduction of Russian tariffs on roundwood exports, as well as impacts of reducing illegal logging. Recently it was also applied to assess market impacts of renewable energy policies and to project future forest product trade in the European Forest Sector Outlook Study.

For projects under Sustainability and Climate Change Programme, see Project Database

For staff in the Sustainability and Climate Change Programme, see staff pages

For publications by the staff of the Sustainability and Climate Change Programme, see publications.