Led by M. Palahi, Director of European Forest Institute, a group of European researchers demonstrates and corrects the seriously erroneous conclusions concerning the levels of forestry activity in Nature (Nature 592, E15–E17, 2021; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03292-x).
An earlier article by Bio-Economy Unit, European Commission Joint Research Centre (Nature 583, 72–77, 2020; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2438-y) had, in a dramatic spirit, reported 49% increase in harvested forest area and 69% increase in harvested forest biomass between 2016–2018 relative to 2011–2015.
Palahi & Co convincingly show that the harvesting increase was in fact a mere 6%, i.e. less than 10% of the claimed increase, which is more consistent with the general economic cycle and variation.
The initial study by the European Commission Joint Research Centre leaves a question mark. For European Union, the statistics at country level (being widely available by research institutions and national statistics as well as by FAO) are generally considered very reliable. However, no “ab-normal” harvesting increases have been reported in any of the official statistics. Nor would such abnormalities be feasible within sustainable forest management or with the existing industrial capacity (harvesting, transportation, wood processing).