Carbon stocks and sinks in Italian mountain forests are threatened by climate-driven extreme events (fire, windstorms), abandonment of active management and overaging of forest stands, and misuse of forest products, i.e., supremacy of energy over material uses. Managing these forests in a climate-smart way means increasing forest resistance and resilience to extreme events, optimizing rotations to the age associated to maximum sink, and promoting long-term wood use and substitution of fossil-based products.
The main objective of Life CO2PES&PEF it is to increase the regulation ecosystem services in three pilot forest areas of Italy: The Consorzio Comunalie Parmensi, a forestry area in the Emilia-Romagna Region; the Regionale di Fusine, a forestry area of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region and the Demanio Forestale Forlivese, a forestry area of the Emilia Romagna Region. The main activities to achieve this goal are: 1) forest management increasing forest resistance; 2) to prevent fire risk; 3) to reduce the impacts of extreme weather events. Quantitative targets include: +51,000 t CO2 stocked in forests and harvested wood products, -5 t CO2 per hectare emitted by forest fire and windstorm, and -0.42 kg CO2 emitted per m3 of wood produced.
The forest management is strictly linked to provisioning ecosystem services. Another goal of the project it is to reduce the environmental impact in the provisioning ecosystem services with the introduction of the guidelines for the application of the Product Environmental Footprint in the wood supply chains. The project provides the test of Product Environmental Footprint – PEF (Rec. 179/2013) implementation. PEF supports the wood companies in the environmental management, reducing the impacts, competitiveness improvements and consequently increasing the provisioning ecosystem services.
The implementation of forest management, especially if it will be validated by certification procedures, have costs that do not be covered only by the wood production. There is certain number of companies that want to engage voluntary actions to compensate their GHG emissions with a financial support to forest management improvement. A methodology to release ecosystem credits will be released according with Kyoto protocol and CDM procedure, EU LULUCF Regulations, IPCC rules and are based upon the Carbon Budget Model, Behave and flammap model and Forest Gales model. In addition, critical ecosystem service and associate benefits will be defined and assessed. This will make possible to capture the total economic value provided by and adequate management of forests, in monetary terms also. Moreover, a compliance with EU green bond standard will be evaluated. A set of credits will be releases on 34,000 Ha of forest. The main goal of this action it is the creation of a link between the production system and the ecosystem services provided by the forests. Procedure to prevent greenwashing will be defined.
The support to regulation and provisioning ecosystem services requires a multidisciplinary approach in forest management, stakeholder engagement and cross section regulation at local, national and EU level. The creation a toolkit to support the policy makers at local and national level will be provided.