Forest conservation is better for the climate than the use of wood: Study by the Max Planck Institute refuted
In February 2020, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena published a study, which was intended to show that sustainably managed forests protect the climate better than unmanaged forests. The most important contribution of sustainably managed forests in the temperate climate zone would be the replacement of fossil fuels by the energetic use of wood. The findings of the study by Prof. Ernst-Detlef Schulze and colleagues published in Global Change Biology – Bioenergy have now been refuted by three independently produced publications in the same journal.
A European-American group (Zoltán Kun and colleagues) and three scientists from the USA and Australia (Mary Booth and colleagues) proved that the conclusions of the article are based on inappropriate assumptions and calculations. A collective of authors from the Naturwald Akademie, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development and Wohllebens Waldakademie now show in their publication that the assertion that forest management is better for climate protection than protection is even based on incorrect data and calculation errors.
The first author Dr. Torsten Welle, Naturwald Akademie, states: „After correcting wrong growth data for unused forests from the original study, it shows that the climate protection effect of unused and protected forests could even be up to two and a half times greater than that of forests used for forestry“. Second author Prof. Pierre Ibisch, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, underlines the conclusion: „The only effective way to curb climate change is to stop the burning of carbonaceous material as quickly as possible and to strengthen natural carbon sinks instead of destroying them. Burning fresh wood, which increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and weakens both natural carbon stocks and functioning forest sinks, is simply not right“.
Prof. Schulze’s refuted publication also involved Prof. Hermann Spellmann, then Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council for Forest Policy of the German Federal Ministry of Agriculture. In its recent report on the so-called Forest Strategy 2050, this Advisory Council also took the position – no longer reflected in the international literature – that the silvicultural use of forests is more favorable for climate protection than their conservation .
The topic is highly explosive in terms of environmental policy, as the federal and state governments in Germany are currently discussing the remuneration of forest ecosystem services and, in particular, the contribution to climate protection through the promotion of so-called ‚climate-stable forests‘. There is a concrete risk that the subsidization will take place regardless of relevant scientific findings on the carbon balance of forests that do not underpin the government plans.
Prof. Dr. Pierre Ibisch
Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development
Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management
Telefon +49 (0)15155155234
Wohllebens Waldakademie GmbH & Co. KG
Tel.: +49 (0)2694 911 320 4
Mobil: +49 (0)151 675 355 34
Dr. Torsten Welle
Head of Science
Naturwald Akademie gGmbH
Tel.: +49 (0)451-693980-56
Refuted original publication:
Schulze, E.D., Sierra, C.A., Egenolf, V., Woerdehoff, R., Irslinger, R., Baldamus, C., Stupak, I., & Spellmann, H. (2020): https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12672
Documents, which refute the findings:
Booth, M.S., Mackey, B. & Young, V. (2020): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcbb.12716
Kun, Z., DellaSala, D., Keith, H., C., Cormos, C., Mercer, B., Moomaw, W.R. & Wiezik, M. (2020): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcbb.12714
Welle, T., Ibisch, P.L., Blumröder, J.S., Bohr, Y.E.-M.B., Leinen, L., Wohlleben, T. & Sturm, K. (2020): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcbb.12738