OptFor-EU co-develops a Decision Support System (DSS) with forest managers and other forest stakeholders, that provides them with 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.

Significant reductions in anthropogenic emissions and increases in CO2 sinks are needed to meet the 1.5° threshold for global warming set out in the Paris Agreement and reach the climate-neutrality goal of the European Green Deal by 2050.

The CO2 sink provided by forests, including old-growth forests, partially offsets the rise in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, providing a large-scale buffer to climate change.

Depending on their characteristics and local circumstances, such as management practices or ecosystem services, forests may range from net CO2 sinks to sources.

The project ‘OPTimising FORest management decisions for a low-carbon, climate resilient future in Europe (OptFor-EU)’ will build a Decision Support System (DSS) to provide forest managers and other relevant stakeholders with tailored options for optimising decarbonisation and other Forest Ecosystem Services (FES) across Europe.

Based on a supply-demand approach, the methodology combines an iterative process of data consolidation, modelling, and co-development of solutions alongside forest managers and other practice stakeholders in all European Forest Types.

The DSS will be designed and tested in 8 case study areas, to provide a ready-to-use service, near to operational at European level, while a user adoption and up-take plan will maximise the societal and business impact.


Based on exploitation of existing data sources, use of novel Essential Forest Mitigation Indicators and relationships between climate drivers, forest responses and ecosystem services, OptFor-EU has five specific objectives:

To improve the characterization of EU Forest Ecosystem Services.

  • Improves the science-based characterisation of FES (e.g. carbon stocks and sinks) for EU forests, with a major focus on old-growth forests, supported by co-development with forest end-users.
  • The current state of FES and future projections is quantified using available datasets (e.g., in situ observations, reanalyses, and satellite remote sensing products; models and scenarios). The results, including representation of FES will be communicated to forest managers and other stakeholders through a co-designed, user-friendly DSS.

To provide a focussed FES modelling framework.

  • Model simulations tackle the integration of European forests, including FMP, in a scalable modelling framework that extends from local pilot locations to the European frame.
  • Models are enhanced to improve the representation of forest land cover and FMP across Europe, and simulations are designed to improve understanding of the individual and combined impacts of FMP, socio-economic and climate scenarios on forest processes and FES.

To empower forest managers and other stakeholders to implement sustainable FMP based on scientifically-informed decisions that enhance FES (including decarbonisation) and forest resilience.

  • Deliver a ready-to-use solution for supporting current and future forest managers and other forest stakeholders to better understand the differences and benefits between managed and unmanaged forests in terms of carbon sequestration.

To develop a novel DSS to optimize FMP.

  • Enable forest managers to identify optimal FMP and NBS for the provision of sustainable FES and resilient forest ecosystems across Europe.
  • Toolboxes co-designed and co-developed with a range of stakeholders to ensure their requirements are addressed and the science-based solution provided by the DSS is adopted into good practices.

Bridging different EU strategic priorities, robust science, and stakeholders in the forest and forest-based sectors.

  • Reduction in net emissions of greenhouse gases related to FES, boost sustainable use of forest resources (including the long-lived wood products), and smooth integration of different economies and societal values at European scale.

In practice

How it works and who does what?

WP stands for Work Packages, which are the areas of work the OptFor-EU partners will focus on in the 4 project years (Jan 2023- Dec 2026).

What does it mean in detail?

WP1, led by BOKU, will harmonise forest-climate data collected and modelled in other WPs (2, led by CNR and 3, led by INCDS), by providing the code in an open access Git repository and building an OptFor-EU database, including Essential Forest Mitigation Indicators (EFMI). The quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from available public sources, including from OptFor-EU WPs, ground observations, reanalyses, remote sensing, forest monitoring initiatives, and multi-model climate/ESM ensembles (e.g. ERA5-land, FISE, ESA CCI). Relevant socio-economic indicators will also be collected (WP3) to define possible future trends in the forestry sector and evaluate the performance of FMP.


WP1 aims at building a harmonised database that will serve as input data for modelling forest-climate interactions and responses and for direct use in the DSS. Modelling and data collection groups will indeed use this code to harmonise the datasets and transfer these to the OptFor-EU database for FES evaluation (WP2) and use within the DSS (WP4, led by SIMAVI) – more details on the Modelling and DSS page.


WP4 aims at developing a customized and flexible DSS to provide forest managers optimal solutions for sustainable forest management practices and decarbonisation of the European forests under different climate change and management scenarios.


WP3 will provide support for OptFor-EU partners in identifying and involving forest end-users and other stakeholders across each case study. WP5 will establish a close dialogue between OptFor-EU scientists and forest managers, apply an iterative “Lean Startup” approach and derive policy recommendations, while WP6 and 7 ensure the project management and outreach.

Advisory Board

Dr. Ivan Güttler (DHMZ)


Prof. Edouard Davin (U Bern)


Dr. Annemarie Bastrup-Birk (EEA)


Viorel Blujdea (JRC)