The growing demand for wood to meet European Union (EU) renewable energy targets has increasingly come under scrutiny for potentially increasing EU import dependence and inducing land use change abroad, with associated impacts on the climate and biodiversity. The article "Assessing the Sustainability of EU Timber Consumption Trends" builds on research accounting for levels of primary timber consumption and developing reference values for benchmarking sustainability in order to improve systemic monitoring of timber and forest use. Specifically, it looks at future trends to assess how current EU policy may impact forests at an EU and global scale. Results reveal that by 2030, EU consumption levels on a per capita basis are estimated to be increasingly disproportionate compared to the rest of the world.
The authors Dr. Meghan O'Brien (Research Fellow, Wuppertal Institute) and Dr. Stefan Bringezu (Director at the Center for Environmental Systems Research, CESR) are arguing that a sustainable level of timber consumption should be characterised by balance between supply (what the forest can provide on a sustainable basis) and demand (how much is used on a per capita basis, considering the concept of fair shares). To this end, future research should close data gaps, increase methodological robustness and address the socio-political legitimacy of the safe operating space concept towards targets in the future. A re-use of timber within the economy should be supported to increase supply options.
The article is available free of charge in the following link.