European forests play a crucial role in carbon balances, with an impact on climate change mitigation of around 13% of total EU emissions. However, in the past decade, saturation in the carbon sink capacity of European forests have been recorded, and no improvement is expected in the near future. There are not enough incentives for forest owners to manage their forests for mitigation purposes, which hinders forest management in difficult socio-economic contexts such as that of Mediterranean forests. Sustainable forest management is therefore a key tool to maintain and enhance the mitigation capacity of forests.
The overall purpose of the LIFE CLIMARK project is to promote multifunctional forest management for climate change mitigation, through the design of a local market of ‘climatic credits’. Climatic credits are devised from a holistic perception of forest management –aligned with newly developed climate smart forestry – which takes into account i) the local characteristics of the territory to identify the most cost-effective management options, and ii) the application of solutions that capitalise adaptation/mitigation synergies. The project takes place in Catalonia (Spain) and it is replicated in Veneto (Italy). The specific objectives of the project are to: Maintain and improve the mitigation capacity of European Mediterranean forests through the application and promotion of locally identified forestry practices and to assess their impact on three ecosystem services, namely climate regulation, water flow regulation and biodiversity. Three key indicators have been identified (carbon sink capacity, water use efficiency and biodiversity), whose valuation will allow the definition of the new ’climatic credit’ concept; Design a local market of ’climatic credits’ as a tool to promote multifunctional forest management in a rural abandonment context, and to provide the means for its replication in other European regions; and Raise awareness, build capacities and provide tools to all stakeholders interested in compensating CO2 emissions through the generation of ’climatic credits’ by means of forestry projects and to disseminate them internationally.
LIFE CLIMARK will have a direct impact over the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector by addressing the following challenges: Compilation of robust carbon data and development of transparent accounting rules; Proposed measures to enhance forests’ contribution to EU mitigation goals through multifunctional and sustainable forest management; and The inclusion of forest fire prevention within the mitigation forestry measures envisaged, to allow, for the first time, for carbon emissions reduced or avoided through fire prevention measures to be part of compensation schemes.
In addition, CLIMARK project’s objective to improve and conserve biodiversity in managed forests is in line with the EU biodiversity strategy.
Expected results: 85 hectares for demonstration purposes established in diverse Mediterranean forest typologies, improving their mitigation capacity and impacting on jobs creation and on rural development initiatives in the four landscape units analysed in Catalonia; Knowledge generated and tools developed to allow the valuation of the mitigation capacity of five forestry practices of interest for the European Mediterranean forests included in Decision 529/2013/UE; Design and testing of the market of ‘climatic credits’ with its pilot implementation in two European regions; Transnational replicability achieved through the development of specific tools and providing consultancy services to stakeholders for the replication of the pilot project on compensation of ‘climatic credits’ in two new regions (in Spain and France); Capacity building achieved for the primary stakeholders in Catalonia and Veneto regions; Awareness raising achieved on the mitigation capacity of sustainable forest management and the existence of a market of climatic credits; and Impact in local and regional policies through networking actions at local and regional level in Catalonia and Veneto, and through the production and dissemination of a specific guide for policy-makers.