Increased consumption, coupled with a growing population, is placing the world’s forests in unprecedented danger, according to Science Magazine’s August 2015 special issue on “Forest Health in a Changing World.”
It warns that the logging industry plays an important part in this process since logging is frequently a gateway to further degradation and conversion, particularly if forest patches become fragmented, as they now are in all regions apart from the Congo and Amazon.
The scientists recommend that developing countries pursue a “development without destruction” agenda, give forest communities legal rights over their land and carry out large-scale landscape planning in order to avoid further destruction of valuable ecosystem services.
Specific to boreal forests, the papers warn that increasing demand for biomass as a renewable energy source puts pressure on the ecological state of forests, such as by removing nutrients that are needed for forest growth. The papers suggest that intensification of forest management as a result of increased demand for biomass has already reduced forest biodiversity and resilience.
With the EU considering a new renewable energy and biomass policy in the coming year, Fern is calling for it to stop subsidising the use of wood for energy in order to avoid further pressure on forests.