In June 2019, a feasibility study regarding the carbon storage potential of French soils was released by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The goal is to evaluate the strategies to be implemented under the Objective 4 per 1000 aiming at achieving a storage level equivalent to current greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, while aiming to reduce its emissions.

Two main observations generated from this study. First, the implementation of favourable agricultural and forestry practices (e.g. intermediate cover, agroforestry, insertion of temporary grasslands in rotations …) would make it possible to achieve additional storage of carbon and benefit water quality and biodiversity. Second, the role of permanent forests, with their current high carbon stock, was underlined, as well as the necessity to promote their maintenance by stopping the artificialisation of soils and develop practices that will ensure their sustainability.

Developing innovative practices guaranteeing that European forests can provide ecosystem goods and services which are vital to society in a sustainable way is the central goal of our project InnoForESt. Based on existing innovative case studies, the project aims at upscaling practices to lead to efficient governance and financing of forest ecosystem services in Europe.

Two case studies of our project present innovative tools to foster climate forests. In 2007, in North-East Germany, in the federal state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern covered by 24% of forest, local actors implemented an innovation tool to guarantee afforestation, and in turn, carbon sequestration. The starting point was the tourist activities in this region which generate CO2 emissions. To limit their impacts, an innovative tool was implemented in Waldaktie; a new payment scheme where tourists can compensate their CO2 emissions by paying for “forest shares”. A “forest stock” describes a certified payment of 10 euros for the tree maintenance on an area of 5 square meter.

Another innovative example can be found in both Slovakian and Czech forests. To limit the consequences of forest overuse brought by the market pressure, self-organised communities are raising funds through the sale of “certificates of patronage”. A buyer of the certificate becomes a “patron” of an area of “New Virgin Forest”. Through this activity, buyers are participating in the creation of new commons and stimulate the use of carbon smart forestry practices.

Overall, the innovative solutions fostered by the InnoForESt project could be implemented all over Europe to maintain the potential of forests to stock carbon and limit climate change.

You can read more about these latest findings in France on carbon storage (in French) here.

Author: Juliette Olivier
Project Officer
European Landowners’ Organization