550 scientists have sent an open letter urging the EU leadership to reduce logging throughout the EU- to mitigate climate change and the loss of biodiversity. The scientists send the appeal ahead of final Brussels negotiations where EU legislation on renewable energy, forestry and nature restoration until 2030 is to be determined. “Climate-smart forestry is a scam,” said David van der Spoel, one of the researchers behind the call.

Timber is shipped from Ornö, an example of many where natural forest has recently been cut down. Photo: Kristina Bäck

A large group of ecology- and climate scientists are behind the call. They call on the European Commission, European Parliament and EU governments to protect Europe’s endangered forests. Protecting more forests can both reduce climate emissions and halt the loss of biodiversity. The open letter is a reaction to an earlier letter by others who argued for less forest conservation and more forestry.

The scientists urge EU decision-makers to stop listening to lobbyists of the forest industry that claim that increased logging for “renewable” energy is climate-smart. One of the scientists who signed the petition is David van der Spoel:

Climate-smart forestry is a bluff. Research is very clear that the best way to mitigate climate change and address the decline in biodiversity is to protect forests with high biodiversity and reduce forest harvests.

The scientists in the appeal write that the European bioenergy sector – and the scientists who support it – have misunderstood the concept of carbon debt, and are confusing carbon stocks with carbon flows. They refer to an earlier research letter from October 2022 organized by the North American pellet harvester Enviva. The researchers who signed this call have potential connections to the biomass industry. They are “either unaware of, or willfully deny, basic and well-known facts about the importance of restoring and protecting forest ecosystems for climate and biodiversity”.

EU ministers, MEPs and Commission officials are due to meet on 7 February to discuss the future of bioenergy in Europe.