Forests of Europe: the science-based data

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Example of a satellite image showing forest biomass distribution. Data collectio
Example of a satellite image showing forest biomass distribution. Data collection in the forest is necessary for its creation. These images are to be optimised and used across Europe. Photo: Santoro, M.; Cartus, O. (2021): ESA Biomass Climate Change Initiative (Biomass_cci): Global datasets of forest above-ground biomass for the years 2010, 2017 and 2018, v3. NERC EDS Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, 26 November 2021.
International team including Göttingen University develops forest inventories in "PathFinder" project

Researchers from the University of Göttingen are involved in the project "PathFinder - Towards an Integrated Consistent European Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry Monitoring and Policy Pathway Assessment Framework". The European Commission has awarded six million euros funding for the project, as part of its Horizon Europe programme. The "PathFinder" project addresses the European Commission’s requirement for standardised, scientifically robust, regularly updated data about forests across Europe. Researchers are developing the scientific basis for an enhancement of the existing national forest inventories in Europe which can be applied consistently across different countries. 23 institutions from 15 European countries are involved.

Every European country regularly collects scientifically valid data about its forests. So far, however, these national forest inventories differ in timing, design and organisation. As part of the project, Dr Lutz Fehrmann, Professor Christoph Kleinn and PhD candidate Ryan Carroll in Forest Inventory and Remote Sensing, Göttingen University, are developing an optimised inventory design. Their focus is on the estimation of forest biomass and indicators of biodiversity. The inventory design will also improve the integration of satellite data and thus enable a more frequent update of, for example, the carbon uptake (or emission) of forests all over Europe.

The project is coordinated by the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO). Project Manager Professor Johannes Breidenbach from NIBIO explains: "Our overall goal is to support Europe’s transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy."

Just under 40 per cent of Europe’s land area is covered with forest. This means that forests have the second largest share of land after agriculture, with large differences between countries. This is a particularly important kind of land use: the forest is closer to nature than areas with agriculture, human settlements or infrastructure. Forests are not just important for timber production, but also for biodiversity conservation, environmental protection and climate change mitigation.