On October 6th, 2021, the Swiss Precious Forests Foundation organized a roundtable discussion entitled "substantiating the claim of SFM with regards to climate change mitigation", based on a recent study by FORM International. The foundation's mission is to contribute to the sustainable preservation of tropical forest ecosystem services for both local communities and the planet; to promote the responsible use of sustainable wood and non-wood products; and to support and fund innovative ideas based on applied research relevant to the sustainable management of certified forests (see precious-forests.foundation).
The roundtable brought together experts from the private forestry sector and carbon specialists to discuss the role and place of sustainable forest management (SFM) projects in international carbon mechanisms. The ATIBT participated in this exchange, represented by two experts from TEREA, consultancy company and member of the ATIBT.
Since the Kyoto Protocol, at the origin of the carbon markets as we know them today, afforestation/reforestation projects (called "ARR") dominate, because of their obvious capacity to sequester carbon and their positive image on public opinion.
Sustainable forest management projects, on concessions already being exploited, are yet to benefit from carbon markets. Though a sustainably managed forest, in particular through reduced impact logging (RIL) techniques, allows for substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to so-called conventional practices, while allowing the forest not to be converted to other uses, thanks its increased economic value. Moreover, according to recent studies in several tropical countries, RIL-C (Reduced Impact Logging for Climate Change Mitigation) practices can reduce GHG emissions by 51% compared to conventional practices. In Gabon, these estimates are as high as 62% if all concessions applied RIL-C practices (Ellis, 2019).
These emissions reductions could be converted into carbon credits, which could be sold on international markets to allow forest operators to finance the investments needed to change practices. Internationally validated methodologies exist and could allow the accounting and valuation of carbon credits resulting from sustainable forest management.
However, several questions arise for foresters, of a financial nature (what costs and what benefits?), technical, but also in terms of image. Indeed, compared to plantation projects, forest exploitation suffers from a negative image, or is not well known by the general public.
The Precious Forests Foundation's roundtable discussion offered directions, which may provide answers to these uncertainties:
Other exchanges will follow this roundtable. As COP26 is on, ATIBT continues to monitor the issue of forest carbon to ensure that sustainable forestry is recognized as a major lever for climate change mitigation.
Through a recent study conducted in Gabon by TEREA and CIBOLA Partners, several sticking points were identified, directly related to the constraints of international carbon mechanisms.
These are all questions that need to be addressed as the international community's interest in sustainable forest management grows.
Coline Seyller, Pierre Schueller, Benoît Demarquez - TEREA
Precious Forest Foundation and Jeanne Ehrensperger – PFF