Understanding the implications of the EU-LULUCF regulation for the wood supply from EU forests to the EU 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences 0705 Forestry Sciences Georgii Alexandrov

Gert-Jan Nabuurs*, Eric J.M.M. Arets, Mart-Jan Schelhaas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In June 2018, the European Parliament and Council of the European Union adopted a legislative regulation for incorporating greenhouse gas emissions and removals from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (EU-LULUCF) under its 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. The LULUCF regulation aim to incentivise EU Member States to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase removals in the LULUCF sector. The regulation, however, does not set a target for increasing the LULUCF carbon sink, but rather includes a 'no net debit' target for LULUCF (Forests and Agricultural soils). For Managed Forest Land (MFL) an accounting framework with capped credits for additional mitigation against a set forest reference level (FRL) was agreed for 2021-2030. The FRL gives the projected future carbon sink in the two compliance periods 2021-2025 and 2026-2030 under "continuation of forest management practices as they were in the reference period 2000-2009". This FRL was disputed by some Member States as it was perceived to put a limit on their future wood harvesting from MFL. Here we simulated with the EFISCEN European forest model the "continuation of forest management practices" and determined the corresponding wood harvest for 26 EU countries under progressing age classes. Results: The simulations showed that under "continuation of forest management practices" the harvest (wood removals) in the 26 EU countries as a whole can increase from 420 million m3/year in 2000-2009 to 560 million m3/year in 2050 due to progressing age classes. This implies there is a possibility to increase absolute wood harvests without creating debits compared to the forest reference level. However, the manner in which 'continuation of forest management' developed with a progressing age class development over time, meant that in some countries the future harvesting exceeded 90% of the increment. Since this generally is considered to be unsustainable we additionally set a harvesting cut-off as max 90% of increment to be harvested for each individual country as a possible interpretation of sustainability criteria that are included in the regulation. Using this additional limit the projected harvest will only increase to 493 million m3/year. Conclusions: The worry from Member States (MS) that the FRL will prevent any additional harvesting seems unwarranted. Due to differences between Member States concerning the state of their forest resources, the FRL as a baseline for harvesting works out very differently for the different Member States. The FRL may have other unforeseen consequences which we discuss. Under all scenarios the living forest biomass sink shows a decline. This can be counteracted through incentivising measures under Climate Smart Forestry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalCarbon Balance and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2018


  • Carbon sink
  • European forests
  • Forest management
  • Sequestration
  • Wood mobilisation

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