Guidelines for sustainable forest biomass production

Challenges in view of an emerging bioeconomy

Increased demands for energy and resources for industrial production have shown to significantly impact the environment and the livelihood of the human population. The UN- Sustainable development goals clearly point at a sustainable production and that business-as usual is no longer possible without drastic negative consequences. For this reason terms such as circular economy or bioeconomy were recently introduced, where existing resources are used more efficiently and where a shift towards biogenic, renewable resources is promoted.

On a global scale, increased use of biomass can help to reach the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) and contribute to a reduced anthropogenic impact as a consequence of releasing fossil carbon deposits. However, increased biomass production implies land-use change towards more intensive management. Particularly in forest management, it is often linked to reduced rotation periods to utilize maximum biomass accumulation phases.  In view of a growing biomass industry, where no limit regarding the usable plant compartments exists, it becomes even more necessary to ensure a sustainable production, even at sites with high productivity and soil quality.

For this reason, forest biomass harvesting guidelines have been developed and implemented on various institutional levels, but they were often developed for traditional silvicultural practices and hence need to be adapted. Common are regional (state) best-management practices with no legally binding character and common elements are deadwood, biodiversity, water quality, soil productivity and silviculture. The replenishment of nutrients is a particular concern and hence some guidelines contain regulations on nutrient recycling schemes (e.g. ashing guidelines). The aim of the workshop is to build on an earlier project funded by OECD, where biomass harvesting guidelines were evaluated in OECD countries. The aim was to develop strategies to harmonize guidelines while still account for regional heterogeneity. The overall objective is to discuss various aspects on forest harvesting guidelines development with the clear aim to promote the biomass industry and to offer land managers sustainable options on how to manage their woodlands based on sound science and stakeholder engagement.

The following topics will be addressed during the workshop

  • Reflection on the current status of forest biomass harvesting guidelines (outcomes of the OECD project)
  • Identification of potential problems for a bioeconomy development that can be addressed with a harmonized set of harvesting guidelines
  • Identification of global topics in guidelines that can be applied on a larger spatial context (across national borders and regions)
  • Highlight potential benefits of a coordinated guideline development including global expertise
  • Discussions on the ideal degree of details and a suitable institutional implementation with the aim to propose a framework covering important issues in a rational and coherent way
  • Biomass harvesting guidelines from a policy-maker point-of view: How can the information presented in a clear way so it can be used for political decision making, wat is needed on national/intergovernmental level?
  • Potential interactions and harmonization with existing governance tools, so that local needs are being met while standards to retain market access are also satisfied (certification)





Program, further details and outcomes

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Workshop executive summary