European forests have a climate change mitigation impact accounting for 13% of all the EU’s emissions. However, experts have observed the first symptoms of carbon sink saturation, and the situation will likely worsen. Also, forest owners don’t have many incentives to manage their forests sustainably.

The team behind LIFE CLIMARK in Catalonia, Spain, has found a potential solution. They are promoting multifunctional forest management through a voluntary climate credit market. The European Commission has highlighted the project in its Innovation Radar, an initiative to identify innovations and innovators with high potential in EU-funded R&I projects.

The system connects forest owners with companies wanting to offset their ecological footprint. These companies purchase climate credit, which funds all or part of a forest project. The goal is to generate economic activity that ensures profitability through multifunctional and mitigating forest management.

Demonstrative forestry works were carried out between 2018 and 2020 in various test sites to identify best practices. Actions included managing stressed forests, enhancing stands in the post-fire regeneration phase, improving soil carbon balance, forest fire prevention, and forestry and agroforestry plantations.

In 2021, eight pilot projects to test the climate credit market generated revenue and proved that the climate credit system works.

The team reduced the risk of megafires in the region while rejuvenating carbon sinks for sequestration – the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide while improving water provision and biodiversity.

Beyond this, the work stimulated political change. Project partner, the Catalan government, has helped put a legal agreement in place for the credit market to function in the region.

Many forest owners received training and can now generate income by selling secondary forest products.

The project is replicated in Italy’s Veneto region, and the team has helped ease replication elsewhere across Europe.

Forests in Catalonia absorb around 10% of the region’s CO2 emissions – multifunctional forest management could increase this capacity by up to 20%. LIFE CLIMARK has a key role to play in reaching this goal.

As a result of its success, LIFE CLIMARK is featured in the European Commission’s Innovation Radar.

The project supports the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and EU Adaptation Strategy.

It is also a prime example of a LIFE close-to-market project.

Watch an interview with Teresa Baiges from the LIFE CLIMARK project coordination team to learn more.

Source: European Commission I CINEA (