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European Timber Consumption: Developing a Method to Account for Timber Flows and the EU's Global Forest Footprint

O'Brien, Meghan and Stefan Bringezu

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 147, issue C, 322-332

Abstract: The growing demand for timber, in particular for renewable energy, increases pressures on global forests and requires a robust monitoring system to ensure sustainability. This article takes a first step toward more systemic monitoring by asking how the global use of forests by EU consumers can be accounted for. Specifically, this article builds on and develops the method of global land use accounting to account for the EU-27's consumption of primary timber between 2002 and 2011 in terms of both volume and forest area. It assesses international trade flows for around 100 commodities and converts them into a volume of primary raw timber based on conversion values. Results reveal that both imports and exports increased over the assessed time period, with primary EU-27 timber estimated to be around 1 m3/cap in 2011. Gaps, uncertainty and a lack of harmonization regarding especially trade data and conversion values are key challenges to further improving the robustness of the method and reliability of results. Future research may focus on improving the method to address in particular recycled and recovered flows as well as the question of whether area or volume is the most appropriate metric for further development of a forest footprint indicator.

Keywords: Monitoring; Global land use; Forestry; Sustainable consumption and production; European Union (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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