How much wood can we expect from European forests?

15 May 2023 – The energy crisis has shown Europe the need to become more self-sufficient in resources. Wood is one of those resources, used in the construction sector, for example, and is already largely produced in the EU itself. The demand for wood is still increasing. However, a new study shows that the additional potential for wood harvesting is limited, and smaller than previously thought, unless more investments are made in afforestation and forest management.

Wood is a renewable resource, has many different uses, and is an important means of CO2 storage. As such, it is not surprising that wood is increasingly in demand. But where should it come from? According to the study that was recently published in Forestry, a small increase in wood harvest in European forests will be possible. An international team from 10 European model regions has done research on how behavioural change by forest managers can lead to a sustainable wood harvest increase.

In addition, a literature review has been carried out into the ambitions of each European country regarding wood harvesting. This has shown that an additional 90 million m3 of wood could be harvested annually from European forests in the next 10-20 years. When barriers are considered in detail, however, the potential turns out to be much smaller. At the same time, forests are under pressure because of climate change. If we want to produce more wood from European forests in the long term, we must invest in forest vitality and afforestation.

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