Trees outside forests: magnifying the climate change mitigation role of our trees

COP24 starts today, and once again, climate change is in the global spotlight.

At PEFC, we have spent nearly 20 years helping to mitigate climate change through the promotion of sustainable forest management. With the inclusion of trees outside forests, we are now further enhancing our positive impact.

We know that healthy, well-managed forests help combat climate change. By capturing and storing carbon, forests remove significant volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Through certification, we demonstrate their responsible management and enhance the value to these forests, ensuring they remain forests and continue to carry out their vital climate change mitigation actions.

Furthermore, sustainable forest management can contribute towards strengthening the resilience of forests, enabling them to adapt to climate change impacts.

“While the vital role of forests in fighting climate change is clear, what is now becoming increasingly apparent is the role of trees outside forests,” said Ben Gunneberg, PEFC International CEO.

Trees outside forests include any trees found outside a traditional forest area. This includes trees used in agriculture, alongside fields and roads, and trees within urban areas and parks.

“Though research is limited, we see an increasing amount of evidence showing the sheer scale of carbon stock in these trees outside forests. If managed sustainably, these trees promise a significant, though currently underestimated, contribution to our climate change mitigation efforts,” Ben continued.

Until now, it has not been possible for the owners of trees outside forests – often small-scale farmers – to achieve certification of their sustainable management practices. However, with the release of our latest PEFC Sustainable Forest Management benchmark standard, smallholder farmers can now obtain PEFC certification.

“We are excited to lead the way in promoting the sustainable management of trees outside forests,” said Ben. “By finally bringing these trees under the scope of certification, we can not only magnify the climate change alleviation role of trees worldwide, but also contribute to rural development in the areas that need it most.”
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