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Sustainable Forest Management Key to Maintaining Forest Carbon Stocks

Aug 11 2010

impactCarbon stocks are stable or increasing in sustainably managed and certified production forests, a recent FAO report suggests.

"The effectiveness of sustainable forest management practices in maintaining carbon stocks in production forests is clear from experiences in North America and the EU. These regions contain most of the world's certified forests and have generally stable or increasing forest carbon stocks, even though they also account for more than 55 percent of global industrial roundwood production," the report states.

While only about 8% of the world's forests are certified as sustainably managed, 90% of certified forests are located in North America and Europe, where forest carbon stocks continue to grow.

Although certification systems are not always explicit about the connections between sustainable forest management and carbon, they share the major objective of achieving a long-term balance between harvesting and regrowth, the study finds:

"The operational guidelines of PEFC, the world's largest certification programme, stipulate that 'forest management practices should safeguard the quantity and quality of the forest resources in the medium and long term by balancing harvesting and growth rates'.

A key principle of the FSC Standard, the second largest certification programme, is that 'the rate of harvest of forest products shall not exceed levels which can be permanently sustained'"

"The practical effect of maintaining a balance between harvesting and regrowth is to achieve stable long-term carbon stocks in managed forests," the report emphasizes. It suggests that key practices by actors among the forest value chain that help maintain the forest ecosystem carbon include sustainable forest management and chain of custody certification.

Commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA), the report Impact of the Global Forest Industry on Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases strongly supports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assertion that sustainable management of production forests is an important option for climate change mitigation over the long term.

More information:

Impact of the Global Forest Industry on Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases (515.98 kB)