“Europe hasn´t been this green for centuries”

Even though news in the environmental sector are often negative, sometimes it is good to find optimistic data. Over the last 30 years there has been a 9% increase in the forest mass in Europe.

In addition, there has recently been a sustained growth of 80,000 hectares of forest per year, bringing the total forest area to 227 million hectares. “Europe has not been this green for centuries,” say scientists from several U.S. and Canadian universities in a report entitled Natural disturbance regimes as a guide to sustainable forest management in Europe.  Some of the reasons for this growth are the promotion of protection policies, reforestation initiatives, the use of alternative materials to wood for construction or combustion, as well as depopulation of rural areas.

However, a large forest is not necessarily a good forest. What is really important is that the forest is healthy. It is not a matter of reforesting for the sake of reforesting, but of meeting certain criteria to protect the environment. If reforestation is not carried out correctly, it can cause problems such as fires or pests. Scientists argue that the best reforestation is natural; that is, one that mimics the characteristics of nature ensuring a diversity of species as well as the survival of trees and shrubs of different sizes and ages.

At CO2 Revolution we advocate this ideology and that is why our reforestation methods are focused on biodiversity conservation, CO2 capture, water quality improvement and soil protection. However, the reality of the motivation for many reforestations is different. More than 90% of the forests in the European Union are designed for timber exploitation. In this sense, according to data from researchers at the University of Vermont, 73% of EU forests tend to homogenization. This happens because they are inclined to think about profitability rather than environmental benefit. However, these types of forests are more vulnerable to climate change, so the best way to reforest is to promote biodiverse forest stands.

Healthy forests generate complete ecosystems, and are of great benefit for the permanence of aspects such as sustainability and resilience. They are particularly important in the current context of rising global temperatures and the proliferation of extreme weather events such as droughts and heat waves, which carry a huge risk of sixth-generation fires. To avoid these catastrophes, we must promote the fight against forest fires, support forest management and sustainable forest use. In short, caring for forests is tremendously beneficial not only from an environmental point of view, but also socially and economically, as it benefits rural communities.