The Biomass of European Forests

The European Joint Research Centre (JRC) published an analysis on the European forests and their biomass potential.

Europes bioeconomy is highly relying on forest biomass as a relevant source of energy and raw material. However, the biomass stock data are poorly harmonized and need an update. The JRC Biomass Assessment Study recognized this need. This helps to understand the possible contribution of biomass stock in Europe to a sustainable bioeconomy. “The present report provides an overview of existing forest biomass data in Europe, describes the methodologies used to harmonize and compare them, and proposes an improved biomass map consistent with the forest inventory data.”

European countries have diverging forest and biomass definitions. The estimation periods are different and use various scales. A first step in the study was the harmonization of biomass data provided by the National Forest Inventories (NFIs). Furthermore, the biomass maps for forest definition had to be resonated. Finally, amendments lead to consistent data on forest areas and “biomass available for wood supply, using the same reference definition and common criteria to assess wood availability and related restrictions. The data harmonization produced a reference database of forest biomass in Europe, which includes statistics at sub-national scale and field plots, both harmonized for biomass pool and reference year.”

With the Biomass of European Forests database, uncertainties of the biomass maps at different spatial scales become visible. With the harmonized data it became clear that biomass maps have a relatively low accuracy at local scale. The result of the study is a biomass map of Europe at 1 ha resolution for the year 2010. This map is “in line with the reference statistics in terms of forest area and biomass stock.”