Forests have a key role to play in combating climate change, both as a carbon sink and as a source of renewable energy, but initiatives to boost forestry for this purpose need to be subject to proper economic assessment, according to the findings of an inquiry by the British House of Lords Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment.
The inquiry found that due to the diverse nature of forests across Europe it would not be practical for the EU to be given specific competence in this area. However, the Committee does recommend that the European Commission works with Member States in order to share experience of innovative economic mechanisms for forestry development and tackling climate change, and to ensure that afforestation initiatives are subject to proper economic assessment.
“We are concerned that the economics of forestry are the biggest obstacle to any further increase of forest cover in order to tackle climate change, as rewards can only be reaped over a long time-scale. Wide public support for increased funding is unlikely given the current economic climate, but we know that some Member States take innovative approaches to the economics of forestry, through their tax systems for example,” remarks Committee chairman, Lord Carter of Coles. “We have also heard that it would be useful to value, and possibly trade, the public benefits provided by forestry.”
The findings of the inquiry have been submitted to the European Commission as a response to its Green Paper on ‘Forest Protection and Information in the EU: Preparing Forests for climate change,’ which was published on March 1st 2010.