David van der Spoel research group

Open letter to EU on forestry

On January 25th 2023, 550 persons of which over 200 professors, sent an open letter to the EU leadership on the need to reduce forest logging for the sake of mitigating climate change and safeguarding biodiversity. The letter is a reaction to an earlier letter by others who argued for less forest conservation and more forestry.

Interested researchers can still sign the letter in this Google document.

Contact persons for the letter:

  • Sweden: David van der Spoel, Professor of Biophysics, Uppsala University, Sweden, david.vanderspoel@icm.uu.se .Climate-smart forestry is a bluff. Research is very clear that the best way to mitigate climate change and address the decline in biodiversity is to protect forests with high biodiversity and reduce forest harvests.
  • Germany: Axel Hochkirch, Professor for Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Biogeography, Trier, and Chair of the IUCN SSC Invertebrate Conservation Committee, Germany hochkirch@uni-trier.de
  • The Netherlands: Louise Vet, Professor of Evolutionary Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Royal Netherlands  Academy of Arts and Sciencex, (NIOO-KNAW) and Wageningen University, The Netherlands, L.Vet@nioo.knaw.nl. “The global large-scale demand for biomass has a major negative impact on land use and biodiversity. A varied forest is multifunctional (air, soil and water quality, maximum carbon storage and biodiversity). Converting existing multifunctional forests into energy crops or fast-growing wood in the form of monocultures is a form of land use with many negative environmental and biodiversity effects.
  • Finland: Jaana Bäck, Professor, Department of Forest Sciences, Univ. Helsinki, Finland, jaana.back@helsinki.fi. “Increasing the amount of harvests will not help in the mitigation of climate change. Harvests affect climate warming in three main ways. First, emissions from harvest residues and soil after harvests lead to immediate loss of carbon storage in forest stands. Second, the harvested wood is currently used in very short lived products. For example in Finland almost 60% of harvested wood is used for energy and only 40% goes for wood products like paper, sawn timber etc. which means that most of the carbon in harvested wood is in a very short time back in the atmosphere. Third, harvesting leads to short and medium term reduction in carbon sink at the stand, and even when new seedlings are planted it takes decades before the stand can be considered net carbon sink. The reduced forest sink is therefore unable to compensate for the increased emissions. Furthermore, when we also account for the significant impact of harvests on biodiversity loss, we will need a significant change in the management schemes of boreal forests.
  • Finland: Aleksi Lehikoinen, Senior Curator, Zoology Unit, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, aleksi.lehikoinen@helsinki.fi 
  • Ecuador/South America: Anders Sirén, Associate Professor of Agroecology and food sovereignty at the Universidad Amawtay Wasi, Quito, Ecuador. (PhD in Rural Development Studies from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Adjunct Professor [docent] in Geography at the University of Turku, Finland). anders.siren@uaw.edu.ec. “Many europeans are rightfully concerned about deforestation in the Amazon, but most are unaware of that in some European countries, particularly Finland and Sweden, natural forests are currently being converted into man-made commodity production systems at a faster pace than in the Amazon, and that this has dire consequences for both biodiversity and the global climate.
  • Spain: José María Rey Benayas, Full professor, Universidad de Alcalá, Edificio de Ciencias, Departamento de Ciencias de la Vida, Madrid, Spain, josem.rey@uah.es.The scientists’ reply to the “climate smart forestry” is relevant and timely because climate adaptation and mitigation actions must be conciliated with biodiversity conservation and recovery. The proposed new EU Law on Nature Restoration supports this vision.“.