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Forestry measures

Forests and climate change

The EU Forestry Strategy identifies that the role of forests as carbon sinks and reservoirs can be "best ensured through sustainable forest management" (Article 13). The document also states that EU and Member States' contribution to the climate change strategies can be best achieved "through the protection and enhancement of existing carbon stocks, the establishment of new carbon stocks and encouragement of the use of biomass and wood-based products" (Article 13).

Forests can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Plants absorb CO2 through photosynthesis and use captured carbon to build organic matter. The storage of organic carbon in soils and above-ground biomass offers considerable potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Significant amounts of carbon can also be built up and stored through afforestation of farmland, agro-forestry systems, and use of carbon-conscious forest management practices.

EU forests are also affected by changing climatic conditions. Global warming is likely to intensify the risk of forest fires and pest outbreaks. In the longer term it will influence the kind of tree species that will grow and timber production capacity as well as biodiversity, though the impacts will vary regionally. Extreme weather events, such as high winds, storms, and prolonged heat waves, floods and droughts will also affect the EU's forests. Heavy storms have already caused severe damage to forests in recent years and are becoming more frequent. Over time, climate change might jeopardise the capacity of EU forests to perform economic, social and ecological functions.


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Last update: 06-01-2010