Under EU legislation adopted in May 2018, EU Member States have to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from land use, land use change or forestry are balanced by at least an equivalent removal of CO₂ from the atmosphere in the period 2021 to 2030. Member States are required to submit to the Commission national forestry accounting plans (NFAP), including forest reference levels (FRL). Under Article 2 (3) of the regulation the FRL is defined as:
‘forest reference level’ means an estimate, expressed in tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, of the average annual net emissions or removals resulting from managed forest land within the territory of a Member State in the periods from 2021 to 2025 (FRL1) and from 2026 to 2030 (FRL2) , based on the criteria set out in this Regulation;
Projections of forest and harvested wood product greenhouse gas removals/emissions were developed by FERS Ltd using the national forest inventory data and the CBM model. The FRL projection for the managed forest lands (MFL) in Ireland indicates a declining forest C stock, which shows a transition from a sink to a source by 2020 (Figure 1). The mean emission/removal of CO2 eq for the first period under the EU LULUCF regulation (2102-2025, RFL1) is a net emission of 141Gg CO2 eq. per year. However, given the large afforestation program in the past, afforested lands (AR) lands have a much larger overall impact of the long-term forest sink than MFL areas do. Therefore, in the context of the Paris agreement all forest lands should be considered.
Long term projections up to 2050 show that net removals (including harvested wood product), of the total forest area declines from 5.5 MtCO2 in 2017 to 0.26MtCO2 by 2034. This trend is reversed over the period 2036 to 2050, where the forest net removals increase to 3.17 MtCO2eq by the middle of the century. These changes are driven by an increase in harvest form the private estate and shift in the age class structure of forest s as they are clearfelled and regenerated.
LEFT: OVERALL GHG BALANCES FOR ALL FOREST AREAS OVER THE PERIOD 2000-2050 AND CORRESPONDING AR AND MFL EMISSIONS AND REMOVALS FOR THE PERIOD 2010-2025. THE HISTORICAL DATA FORM 2000-2017 ARE THE GHGI REMOVALS AND EMISSIONS FOR FM AND AR AREAS (BLUE LINE). THE FRL FOR MFL IS INDICATED BUT THE BLACK LINE.