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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Can Forest Management Practices Counteract Species Loss Arising from Increasing European Demand for Forest Biomass under Climate Mitigation Scenarios?

Rosa, Francesca; Di Fulvio, Fulvio; Lauri, Pekka; Felton, Adam; Forsell, Nicklas; Pfister, Stephan; Hellweg, Stefanie


Forests are home to many species and provide biomass for material and energy. Here, we modeled the potential global species extinction risk from future scenarios of climate mitigation and EU28 forest management. We considered the continuation of current practices, the adoption of closer-to-nature management (low-intensity practices), and set-asides (conversion to unharvested forestland) on portions of EU28 forestland under two climate mitigation pathways as well as the consequences for the wood trade. Expanding set-aside to more than 25% of EU28 currently managed forestland by 2100 increased the global extinction risk compared to the continuation of current practices. This outcome stems from a projected increase in EU forest biomass imports, partially from biodiversity-vulnerable regions to compensate for a decrease in domestic harvest. Conversely, closer-to-nature management on up to 37.5% of EU28 forestland lowered extinction risks. Increasing the internal production and partially sourcing imported biomass from low-intensity managed areas lowered the species extinction footprint even further. However, low-intensity practices could not entirely compensate for the increased extinction risk under a high climate mitigation scenario with greater demand for lignocellulosic crops and energywood. When developing climate mitigation strategies, it is crucial to assess forest biomass supply chains for the early detection of extinction risks in non-EU regions and for developing strategies to prevent increase of global impacts.


biodiversity; species richness; biodiversity footprint; life cycle thinking; bioeconomy; land use; leakage effects; closer-to-nature forests; set-aside; wood trade

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2023, Volume: 57, number: 5, pages: 2149–2161

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Forest Damage Center

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
    SDG15 Life on land
    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Forest Science

    Publication Identifiers


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