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Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH

What is a Sustainable Level of Timber Consumption in the EU?




Toward global and EU benchmarks for a sustainable forest use

Renewable energy targets in the European Union (EU) have raised the demand for timber and are expected to increase dependence on imports. However, timber consumption levels are already disproportionally high compared to the rest of the world. The question is, how much timber is available for the EU to sustainably harvest and import, in particular considering sustainable forest management practices, a safe operating space for land-system change, and the global distribution of "common good" resources.

This article approaches this question from a supply angle to develop a reference value range for the current as well as future sustainable supply of timber at the EU-27 and global levels. Furthermore, whether a global or EU reference value is more appropriate for EU policy orientation, considering both strengthened economic and cultural ties to the forest in forest-rich countries as well as the need to prevent problem shifting associated with exporting land demands abroad, is discussed.

The article "What Is a Sustainable Level of Timber Consumption in the EU: Toward Global and EU Benchmarks for Sustainable Forest Use" by Meghan O'Brien (Wuppertal Institute) and Stefan Bringezu (University of Kassel) was published in Sustainability, volume 9, issue 5. It is available for free download.

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