On 23-24 January, the European Organization of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) has taken part in brainstorming workshop for the next ECE/FAO Forest Sector Outlook Study (FSOS). Expectations of the region's forests to meet increasing environmental, social and economic demands have never been higher. European forest sector policy makers must grapple with complex, imperfectly understood challenges to meet these demands when designing forest policies. The goal of the next FSOS is discussing of these demanding challenges and mapping out possible future developments, based also on past trends.
The FSOS is still in the first planning stage. Participants included representatives from ministries, forest agencies, research institutes, the private sector and international organizations. They were divided into groups which were tasked to examine different aspects of the challenges that European forests and the related stakeholders will be confronted with in the coming decades.
A plenary discussion ensued, in which the following aspects were emphasized:
A lot of interest exists for the potential storage of carbon in wood products, especially in the context of the circular economy. It is possible to calculate the carbon stock, however it is more difficult to rightfully capture the substitution effect. The ClimWood2030 project was mentioned in this context as it focusses on these issues.
Related to the aspect of carbon storage, participants mentioned the difficulty to measure the wood content in end-use sectors. Decent statistics exist for paper and sawmill, however for sectors such as construction or furniture this information is difficult to obtain.
The possible inclusion of scenarios for disastrous events / economic downturns or collapses would be quite different to what has been done in past outlook studies. It could be interesting to do so, if a rationale can be developed on why these events are somewhat likely.
For some issues, the ECE or sub-regional perspective is meaningful. For others, it could be better to look at the national level. In this context, countries should be supported to develop their national capacities in modelling. The outputs of national work can then be incorporated in the regional outlook.
It would be beneficial to link the outlook to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), e.g. by exploring how the ECE forests and forest products could contribute to the SDGs. The advantage of the SDGs is that they provide a common language for different type of stakeholders.
Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), as one of the SDGs, is also an interesting framework for the outlook study. The question arose on how to translate this framework to scenarios or models. Answers to this question included the aspects of circular economy (especially with prolonging products’ life spam and thus the carbon stock in products), the aspect of bioeconomy (replacing non-renewable materials with renewable materials) as well as recycling and reuse.
The results of this discussion and the next steps will be presented to the Working Party on Forest Statistics, Economics and Management, which will take place in Geneva on March 22-23 and in which EOS will participate.