JRC – Reports on forests assessment
Two reports recently published by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and titled “An approach for pan-European monitoring of forest fragmentation” and “Assessing forest availability for wood supply in Europe”.
Forest area and its fragmentation is a key aspect in biodiversity, ecosystem services and the ever-increasing pressure from anthropogenic land use. Forest fragmentation may lead to the isolation and loss of species and gene pools, degraded habitat quality, and a reduction in the forest’s ability to sustain the natural processes necessary to maintain ecosystem health. The goal of the indicator is to provide quantifiable and intuitive classes to characterise the state and trend of forest fragmentation. To achieve this goal, FOREST EUROPE setup a dedicated expert group to discuss and evaluate appropriate methods for mapping and quantifying forest fragmentation following the CBD definition: Forest fragmentation refers to any process that results in the conversion of formerly continuous forest into patches of forest separated by non-forested lands.
The quantification of forests available for wood supply (FAWS) is essential for decision-making with regard to the maintenance and enhancement of forest resources and their contribution to the global carbon cycle. The provision of harmonized forest statistics is necessary for the development of forest associated policies and to support decision making. Based on the National Forest Inventory (NFI) data from 13 European countries, we quantify and compare the areas and aboveground dry biomass (AGB) of FAWS and forest not available for wood supply (FNAWS) according to national and reference definitions by determining the restrictions and associated thresholds considered at country level to classify forests as FAWS or FNAWS. FAWS represent between 75 and 95 % of forest area and AGB for most of the countries in this study. Economic restrictions are the main factor limiting the availability of forests for wood supply, accounting for 67% of the total FNAWS area and 56% of the total FNAWS AGB, followed by environmental restrictions. Profitability, slope and accessibility as economic restrictions, and protected areas as environmental restrictions are the factors most frequently considered to distinguish between FAWS and FNAWS. With respect to the area of FNAWS associated with each type of restriction, an overlap among the restrictions of 13.7% was identified. For most countries, the differences in the FNAWS areas and AGB estimates between national and reference definitions ranged from 0 to 5%. These results highlight the applicability and reliability of a FAWS reference definition for most of the European countries studied, thereby facilitating a consistent approach to assess forests available for supply for the purpose of international reporting.