Efforts to boost environmental and profitable sides of forestry sector detailed

The coming decades look likely to see a major boom in the global forestry arena, which will not only boost the sector’s profitability but also help to stamp out some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

The importance of global forestry in combating climate change has been realised to its full extent following the successful Paris climate change summit (COP21) and many scientific bodies and governmental organisations are calling for more to be done to make the most of this precious resource.

A recent statement, issued last month at the Oslo REDD Exchange by the United States and Norway governments detailing ‘Deeper Collaboration on Forests and Climate Change,’ highlighted the fact that “forests and land use currently represent nearly one-quarter of global emissions, but forests alone may contribute up to one-third of the pre-2030 mitigation”.

The statement detailed a number of approaches that will be needed to address and carry out a REDD+ based system of large landscapes, with a crucial role being played by the private sector. One of the top priorities is the need for major efforts to be made in order to boost the growth of plantation development away from carbon-rich forests, including those tropical forests that are mainly undisturbed. Instead, the focus should be on moving the plantations towards degraded areas that are too far gone to be restored as ecosystems bursting with animal and plant life.

Alongside efforts such as these, other important elements in achieving the goals include a focus on a new range of technological developments designed to monitor, report and verify carbon storage. This will allow for the implementation of forest emissions mitigation to be a likely solution to global warming. If this can be carried out successfully, it would lead to the opportunity for a major commercial boom across the global forestry arena over the coming two decades, experts have said.

The view of forests as climate change saviours has changed dramatically in recent years — in 2004, for example, the United Nations (UN) said that forests “cannot physically deliver permanent emissions reductions” as a result of the uncertainties of “accurate carbon storage and ‘leakage’ risks, lack of capable monitoring and reporting of carbon stocks”.

The risk that forest-based solutions would lead to a disruption of other efforts to boost a successful carbon market was also mentioned. Recently, however, that view has changed and forests across the globe can now be tracked with far greater precision, which allows for regulatory frameworks to work in a highly effective manner.

It is now key that governments work alongside forestry firms and NGOs in order to create and implement frameworks for global land use that are able to set out new plantation citing which will work for both climate change and on the financial side. Once this has been done, private sector investment will then be able to focus on new plantation capability and capacity, leading to a growth in value across the sector.

Furthermore, this will mean that the overall profitability of the forestry sector is boosted due to major industrial efficiency improvements and less supply chain disruptions. On an environmental note, the lowering of deforestation, forest degradation and carbon emissions across sensitive environmental ecosystems will also provide a huge step in the right direction in terms of hitting global climate change goals.

The Forest Finance & Sustainability conference in London, held in July 2016, focused on what can be done to maximise the positive impact forestry can have on climate change while still producing high profit margins for owners and investors.

GWD Forestry spokesman James Barrett said: “Efforts to boost both the environmental and profitable sides of the forestry sector are obviously of major importance to the global forestry arena and it is key that these efforts and activities are given the support and publicity that they deserve.”

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