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Assessment of forest-carbon sinks and promotion of compensation systems as tools for climate change mitigation  (LIFE FOREST CO2)
Start date: Jan 2, 2016, End date: Dec 30, 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

Background Despite increasing awareness in the land use, land use change and forestry sectors (LULUCF) concerning climate change action, reflected in Decision 529/2013/EU, the emissions and carbon sink effect generated by sustainable forest management (SFM) strategies are not included in the EU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction objectives (40% by 2030). As it is not yet considered as a key tool, the climate change mitigation potential offered by SFM strategies is reduced. One of the main limitations preventing a value being put on forestry systems has been gaps in the mathematical models used for assessing the carbon sink effects of Mediterranean conifer forests. For this reason, the development of precise prediction tools, and their application through SFM practices for the conservation of natural carbon sinks, is one of the main goals in the context of mitigation planning. This will improve the knowledge base, and the accounting and notification system, for the carbon sink potential of the LULUCF sectors. Objectives The main objective of the LIFE FOREST CO2 project is the promotion of SFM systems in Mediterranean areas as a tool for climate change mitigation. This will be achieved through the application of European legislation related to the accounting of emissions and carbon sink removals in the LULUCF sectors. This will facilitate an integrated implementation involving the main stakeholders, including those responsible for offsetting through voluntary markets. Specific objectives include: Modelling and accounting of CO2 emissions and carbon sequestration as a result of SFM systems; Raising awareness and creating positive attitudes toward the role of forestry in climate change mitigation, among major stakeholders involved in the development of forestry projects; Encouraging a change in corporate culture towards a low-carbon economy within the business and institutional sectors, especially for diffuse-source related economic activities, through the promotion of the calculation, reduction and voluntary offsetting of carbon footprint; and Promoting forestry projects as a tool for climate change mitigation among the non-regulated sector, with special emphasis on the implementation of emissions offsetting systems based on SFM. Expected results: The accurate estimation, according to the standards established through ‘Decision 529/2013/EU on accounting rules on GHG emissions and removals resulting from activities relating to LULUCF’, of net anthropogenic removals of carbon in aerial and root biomass, organic matter of soils and leaf litter and dead wood, as a result of sustainable forest management (SFM) in Mediterranean forests of Pinus halepensis and Pinus pinaster; Carbon sequestration models produced as a result of SFM actions, set out in guidelines distributed to those responsible for forest planning and management; 125 CO2 sequestration projects related to SFM on completion of the project, achieving a total removal of CO2 estimated as 3 375 tonnes during the project, and more than 50 000 tonnes in the long term; 200 companies and institutions voluntarily implementing measures of calculation, reduction and offsetting their carbon footprint through forestry projects, reducing, at least, 7 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere during the project; and Changed perception of forestry, among key stakeholders and the general public, as an activity with potential to generate social, economic and environmental benefits, as well as SFM being a fundamental tool for climate change mitigation.
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