The year 2015 was a pivotal one for forests as their role in combatting global warming was profoundly recognised at a number of global climate meetings, including the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) in December. Two industry experts, Antti Marjokorpi and Jukka Tissari, discuss the global trends impacting sustainable forestry and forests going forward.
According to bioeconomy expert Jukka Tissari, previously working as Forestry Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Secretary of the FAO Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest-based Industries, population growth to 10 billion by 2050 will call for more efficient production systems for all types of biomass.
“The increasing population and middle-income consumer patterns will mean a crunch for food, energy, and materials, and this necessitates a reappraisal, including ways to reduce food loss and waste which burden the use of land, soils, nutrients, and fresh water resources,” says Jukka.
In these circumstances sustainably managed forests will have a key role. Antti Marjokorpi, Head of Forests, Plantations, and Land Use at Stora Enso says that related global challenges, such as increased demand for agricultural land, and the widening gap between the supply and demand of wood, require us to use forests and other natural resources more efficiently. “Simultaneously, the need to conserve remaining natural ecosystems is increasing. This calls for finding new ways to integrate various land uses,” he says.
Forests as part of the global solution
Forests and forestry have vast potential to improve livelihoods and combat global warming, with private-sector-led forest development and partnerships gaining importance.
“With the right policy environment, the private sector has the potential to provide much of the necessary investment in natural capital such as forests, which will contribute to covering ever-growing societal needs for food, animal feed, materials, and bioenergy from biomass,” adds Tissari. “Moreover, the finance community has started to favour sustainable investments and supply chains.”
“We are pleased to see that the global approach to forests has moved from environmental discourse to a more holistic direction – forests have increasingly become a part of and a solution to a larger global development agenda,” Marjokorpi continues.
Storing carbon and providing food
Forests and plantations are becoming better understood as one way of combating global warming through capturing and storing carbon dioxide. According to Jukka Tissari, the downward trend in the world’s forest area is now reversing, mainly thanks to carbon-intensive planted forests.
“Looking ahead, one conclusion that came out strongly in the Innovation and Investment Forum, held at the 14th World Forestry Congress in 2015, was the need to transfer industrial-scale inter-cropping of trees and agricultural crops in new areas, such as Africa, for example through emerging impact investment platforms,” he says. “Private forest companies in South-East Asia and Latin America have developed large-scale agroforestry systems with promising results for growing trees and food on the same land.”
“Forests have always been an essential element in tackling global warming and achieving sustainable development, but when reviewing the recent dialogue and different initiatives, their role is becoming even more evident,” Antti Marjokorpi concludes.