Concerns about reported harvests in European forests

Palahí, Marc; Valbuena, Rubén; Senf, Cornelius; Acil, Nezha; Pugh, Thomas A.M.; Sadler, Jonathan; Seidl, Rupert; Potapov, Peter; Gardiner, Barry; Hetemäki, Lauri; Chirici, Gherardo; Francini, Saverio; Hlásny, Tomáš; Lerink, Bas Jan Willem; Olsson, Håkan; González Olabarria, José Ramón; Ascoli, Davide; Asikainen, Antti; Bauhus, Jürgen; Berndes, Göran; Donis, Janis; Fridman, Jonas; Hanewinkel, Marc; Jactel, Hervé; Lindner, Marcus; Marchetti, Marco; Marušák, Róbert; Sheil, Douglas; Tomé, Margarida; Trasobares, Antoni; Verkerk, Pieter Johannes; Korhonen, Minna; Nabuurs, Gert Jan


Ceccherini et al.1 reported an abrupt increase in harvested forest—in terms of both biomass and area—in Europe from 2016, and suggested that this reflected expanding wood markets encouraged by the bioeconomy policies of the European Union (EU). They used Global Forest Watch2 and GlobBiomass3 data together with an analysis that sought to remove natural disturbances from forest losses, which overall resulted in estimates of 49% for the increase in harvested forest area and 69% for the increase in harvested forest biomass. We argue that the reported changes reflect analytical artefacts, with inconsistencies in the forest change time series, misattribution of natural disturbances as harvests, and a lack of causality with the suggested bioeconomy policy frameworks. There is an urgent need to re-examine available forest information that can accurately and reliably inform the ongoing policy discussions in the framework of the EU Green Deal, particularly the upcoming post-2020 EU Forest Strategy.