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ForestValue JC2021 – SustMultBiomass, Sustainable and multifunctional use of forest biomass

Alternative title: ForestValue JC2021 - SustMultBiomass, Bærekraftig og multifunksjonell bruk av biomasse fra skog

Awarded: NOK 3.0 mill.

Forests provide a home for thousands of forest species, and also provide a multitude of benefits to the people: timber for the industry, carbon sequestration for climate change mitigation, and a number of other ecosystem services. Our project investigates potential pathways for sustainable forest management that would secure sufficient supply all of the key benefits of the forests in the future. We will do this by considering alternative uses of forests during the coming 30 or 100 years, and identify the advantages and disadvantages that will result from the alternative forest uses for the benefits to people and biodiversity conservation. Life cycle assessment (LCA) will be applied to assess the environmental impacts of different forest uses, and additionally to assess how our conclusions depend on what we assume for instance about how fossil-based products are substituted with wood-based products. The project involves a broad stakeholder group including representatives of the forest industry, forest owner and bioenergy industry associations, governmental agencies and environmental NGOs from Norway, Sweden and Finland. Stakeholder interests are considered in the formulations of alternative forest uses. The scientific team and the stakeholders will jointly write a synthesis report that summarizes the current knowledge and project findings on the influence of alternative forest uses for timber production, biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and other ecosystem services. The report will help in taking the new knowledge in use in forest management, conservation and environmental policy development.

Our project aims to identify pathways of sustainable future forest management that develops the bioeconomy and multifunctional forests that will contribute to mitigating climate change, delivering non-woody forest ecosystem services (FES) and preserving biodiversity. We will do this based on extensive analyses of synergies and trade-offs of alternative uses of forest biomass for the coming 30 and 100 years. The approach is to simulate a large number of forest management alternatives into the future and then apply multi-objective optimization (MOO) to identify the future pathways that fulfill objectives to be specified for the forest. Uniquely, this MOO will include harvest and forest variables, FES, biodiversity and climate impact assessment based on LCA, all handled by the MOO tool to be developed in the project. The specific WP on climate impact LCA further investigates uncertainties and sensitivities of results to different assumptions, e.g. on substitution and how it may change into the future as the world decarbonizes resulting from societal targets on GHG reductions. Next, we optimize the forestry to reach specified targets on harvest levels, climate change mitigation, FES delivery and biodiversity conservation. In parallel to the interdisciplinary scientific work, we conduct transdisciplinary work by collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders on simulating/optimizing the forest use that they advocate. The aim is for them to obtain an understanding of the long-term consequences of the forest use that they advocate on forest(ry) variables, climate change mitigation, FES provisioning and biodiversity. Finally, we will write a synthesis report on the climate, FES and biodiversity impacts of alternative forest uses in the Nordic countries, including the project results. The report is intended to a broad range a knowledge users, and will facilitate the application of the new knowledge in practical forestry, conservation and environmental policy development.

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