10 things to know about the project

1. Why OptFor-EU?

Forests are key in the European fight against climate change, absorbing twice as much carbon as they emit each year. We have been dramatically reminded summer 2022 by both heatwaves (which enduring effects were worsened in urbanised areas where nature was cut out) and forest fires, with devastating impacts and consequences on life and nature all around the world. The OptFor-EU project received funding from the European Commission to co-develop a Decision Support System (DSS) with forest managers and other forest stakeholders. This focus on forests is more than necessary considering the decarbonisation potential and the functional role of EU forests.

2. Co-developing solutions alongside forest managers and other practice stakeholders

OptFor-EU will co-develop a Decision Support System (DSS) with forest managers and other forest stakeholders, to ensure the DSS outputs are useful in realistic forestry settings. The co-developed DSS will provide suitable climate adaptation and mitigation options for science-based optimising forest ecosystem services (FES) (including decarbonisation) and enhancing forest resilience and its capacities to mitigate climate change across Europe.

3. OptFor-EU is a highly interdisciplinary project

involving scientists and stakeholders from disciplines including forestry, meteorology, geography, soil science, policy analysis, social sciences and humanities. A comprehensive screening of the gaps and in-depth knowledge of recent developments in each contributing discipline has consolidated our ambition to go beyond the current state-of-the-art and propose innovative solutions.

4. Key figures

Improving forest management practices is a key focus of OptFor-EU, which covers all 14 European forest types, and over 3 million hectares of forest including 1.84 million hectares of protected areas.

8 case studies across European forests in Austria, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Spain and the UK are involved.

5. A wealth of resources

The project will deliver tools, (policy) recommendations and knowledge on the ground, with a summer school and 24 workshops, aiming to engage over 400 Forest practice stakeholders. The DSS will be freely accessible from this website, and all project reports will come with visual summaries and/or infographics.

6. Computing and assessing changes of various scenarios

OptFor-EU builds on state-of-the-art datasets, modelling outputs and integrated solutions to provide the first DSS that will enable forest managers to obtain an enhanced understanding of current and future possible changes in forest processes, ecosystem services, vulnerabilities, costs, and adaptive capacities for a range of Forest Management Practices, and socioeconomic and climate scenarios.

7. Responding to various (policy) priorities

The project DSS tool will support the conservation and enhancement of the Earth’s natural carbon sinks in forests, addressing the priorities and objectives of the Horizon Programme’s land, ocean and water for climate action. Our project has the ambition to respond to the priorities of strategic documents related to the Forest-Climate nexus (F-C nexus, see glossary), such as the New EU Forest Strategy (EU FS, which promotes “forest management practices within national policy frameworks to reduce emissions, sequester carbon and build forest resilience, by using EU funds and best knowledge”, European Commission, 2018), EUBS for 2030, UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), supporting the EU’s commitments for climate action foreseen under the PA, EGD, and EU Climate Adaptation Strategy. The development of Climate-Smart Forestry (CSF), seen as the missing link in the decarbonisation strategies, that increases climate benefits from forests in synergy with other needs, could contribute to achieving the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and the EGD, by finding the optimal trade-off between carbon up-take and other FES at user scale.
Read more about the policy and governance contexts here and here.

8. Sustainable Development Goals

OptFor-EU will contribute to the targets of UN SDG 13 (Climate Action) and UN SDG 15 (Life on Land) by promoting the sustainable use of forest ecosystem services (FES), towards low-carbon and climate-resilient activities in Europe.

9. Do no significant harm

OptFor-EU methodology fully complies with the ‘do no significant harm’ principle within the meaning of Article 17 of the Taxonomy Regulation.

The project activities and its overall implementation will not:

(1) lead to significant GHG emissions,
(2) trigger adverse impact of the current climate and the expected future climate,
(3) be detrimental to the good status of water bodies,
(4) do significant harm to the circular economy, incl. waste prevention and recycling,
(5) lead to a significant increase of pollutants into the air, water or land,
(6) be detrimental to the good condition and resilience of ecosystems, or the conservation of habitats and species.

10. How to get involved?

The knowledge exchange and uptake will be ensured through a Multi-Actor Approach. Various stakeholders will be engaged (co-design, co-production, and co-dissemination) in all demo cases and in all stages of the implementation. Are you part of one of our areas? Are you interested contributing to the project? Reach out to us!