What solutions will COP26 bring to the climate change debate? The world waits with bated breath as the international score card will be completed on signatories’ progress in achieving their climate change goals.
As the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and its supporters celebrate its international name day, FSC Friday, on 24 September, FSC reconfirms its support for international climate change initiatives and highlights the important contribution responsible forestry makes to these efforts.
Forests play an essential role in climate regulation. Together with oceans, forests are the key ecosystems the planet uses to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) – the most important greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere. Nearly 2.6 billion tonnes, or one-third of all CO2 released from fossil fuels are absorbed by forests every year. Even with forestry operations and processing, forests function as net-removers of CO2. 1 The Paris Agreement (COP 21) highlighted the importance of forests in responding to climate change calling on all countries to conserve carbon sinks in forests.
Bearing in mind an average hardwood tree can store as much as 21kgs of CO2 every year, forests’ role in helping stabilise the climate cannot be overstated. Halting the loss and degradation of natural systems such as forests, and promoting their restoration, have the potential to contribute over one-third of efforts to mitigate climate change.
In addition, 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihood, forest products accounts for US$ 244 billion in international trade.1 Forests are also home to 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
What role does FSC play in the fight against climate change?
FSC is a nature-based solution for sustainable forest management, including biodiversity protection, nature conservation and forest landscape restoration.
FSC’s standards play an important role in maintaining forest cover, preventing deforestation and forest degradation, which are vital elements in the global climate change agenda to prevent the planet passing the 1,50C temperature increase (danger point) for dangerous climate change. 3
FSC believes in the importance of nurturing responsible forestry to protect healthy and resilient forests that sustain life on earth. Therefore it designed FSC-specific ecosystem services claims. Showing the full value of forest ecosystems by measuring the full impact of excellent forest management practices and fostering partnerships that reward them, is fundamental to climate action and sustainability. Ecosystem services claims provide nature-based information through the measurement of impacts such as carbon sequestration and storage, biodiversity conservation, watershed services, soil conservation and recreational services.
Success stories of our ecosystem services programme
FSC believes markets should work for the ecosystems they are part of, and the ecosystem services claims are the tool to show the true value of forests to markets. With them, FSC connects forest stewards and committed stakeholders fostering partnerships that promote the protection of ecosystems.
There are a growing number of related success stories. For example, in Mexico, FSC connected a community with outstanding forest management practices with a tomato company interested in a more sustainable value chain. This partnership enables the community to continue to protect the watersheds of their forests. FSC has also promoted partnerships for the protection of biodiversity in France, where a lottery company has partnered with a forest steward in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, promoting the restoration of the natural characteristics of their forests. Closer to home in Namibia, restoration of degraded forest landscapes has allowed grass to come back to allow a more natural ecosystem for fauna and flora. This biodiversity conservation ecosystem claim has resulted from collaboration between local Namibian FSC certificate holders, NGO’ and a leading international retail chain.
Join us in celebrating FSC Friday and continue to support forestry as a nature-based solution to climate change.
1 FAO Forestry Statistics http://www.fao.org/forestry/statistics/80938/en/ [Accessed 02/09/20201]
2 ICUN issue brief: Forests and climate change; https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/forests-and-climate-change [Accessed 20/08/2021]
Image credit: In Namibia, restoration of degraded forest landscapes has allowed grass to come back to allow a more natural ecosystem for fauna and flora. ©FSC Southern Africa