Northern Forests and Climate Change

By: Wendel Trio

AirClim’s Northern Forests and Climate Change project aims to increase the visibility of Northern forests in the international climate debate. To enhance international action this project aims at:

  • Improving the scientific basis for campaigning and advocacy on Northern forests and their protection;
  • Improving international NGO coordination and work on protection of Northern forests and climate change issues, in close cooperation with Climate Action Network;
  • Increasing high-level awareness & commitment among EU institutions and UN bodies on the link between Northern forests and climate change.

Under this project, Northern forests comprise all boreal as well as temperate forests in North America (US/Canada), Europe, Russia and Central Asia. These are overwhelmingly (+95%) located in developed countries
(Annex 1 countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

Until now, the forest debate under the UNFCCC has focused largely on the responsibility of developing countries to protect their forests, with developed countries mostly promising to provide funding while underachieving on efforts to tackle forest destruction at home.

  forest area (%) carbon stock (%) protected forests (%)
World 100.00 100.00 100.00
Europe (incl. Russia) 25.06 25.98 7.31
North America 18.55 22,05 11.61
Europe+North America 43.61 48.03 18.92

Northern forests have an important role to play in supporting indigenous peoples, protecting biodiversity and mitigating climate change as they represent over 40% of the world’s forest cover and hold nearly half the global carbon stock. At the same time, Northern forests represent less than 20% of the global protected forest area.

There is a clear need to recognise the negative impact of so-called forest management in many of the Northern forests and a strong urge to improve protection and restoration of Northern forests given their important role in tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity while ensuring indigenous peoples’ rights.

The Northern Forests and Climate Change project aims to contribute to campaigns calling for better protection of Northern forests, through:

  • the publication of three studies (by Climate Analytics), on:
    - the impact of climate change on Northern forests;
    - the role of forests in mitigating climate change; and
    - how the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC rules impact the protection of northern forests;
  • supporting coordination and communication amongst NGOs, scientists and indigenous peoples’ organisations working on Northern forests; and
  • setting up an advocacy campaign aiming to increase the visibility of (Northern) forests in the climate debate in the run up to what will likely be a forest-focused Climate Summit (COP30) in Belem, Brazil in November 2025.

This project is supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation