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Call: The contribution of forest management to climate action: pathways, trade-offs and co-benefits

Acronym HE-CL5-D1
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 1: Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality"

Europe has been at the forefront of climate science and should retain its leadership position to support EU policies as well as international efforts for a global uptake of climate action in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including biodiversity objectives. Advancing climate science and further broadening and deepening the knowledge base is essential to inform the societal transition towards a climate neutral and climate resilient society by 2050, as well as towards a more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030. It will involve research that furthers our understanding of past, present and expected future changes in climate and its implications on ecosystems and society, closing knowledge gaps, and develops the tools that support policy coherence and the implementation of effective mitigation and adaptation solutions. Due to the inherent international character of this subject, international collaboration is encouraged for topics under this destination.

The activities implemented under this section will enable the transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy through improving the knowledge of the Earth system and the ability to predict and project its changes under different natural and socio-economic drivers, including a better understanding of society’s response and behavioural changes, and allowing a better estimation of the impacts of climate change and the design and evaluation of solutions and pathways for climate change mitigation and adaptation and related social transformation.

This Destination contributes directly to the Strategic Plan’s Key Strategic Orientation C ”Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems” and the impact area “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”.

In line with the Strategic Plan, the overall expected impact of this Destination is to contribute to the “Transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy enabled through advanced climate science, pathways and responses to climate change (mitigation and adaptation) and behavioural transformations”, notably through:

  1. Advancing knowledge and providing solutions in the any of following areas: Earth system science; pathways to climate neutrality; climate change adaptation including climate services; social science for climate action; and better understanding of climate-ecosystems interactions.
  2. Contributing substantially to key international assessments such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the European Environment Agency (e.g. European environment state and outlook reports, SOER).
  3. Strengthening the European Research Area on climate change.
  4. Increasing the transparency, robustness, trustworthiness and practical usability of the knowledge base on climate change for use by policy makers, practitioners, other stakeholders and citizens.

Coordination and synergies between activities supported under Destination 1, as well as in other Destinations and Clusters, and in particular complementarities with Cluster 4 and Cluster 6 should be taken into account by planning for adequate resources for co-ordination and clustering activities. Following a systemic approach, Destination 1 concentrates on activities related to climate science and modelling, whereas Cluster 6 supports R&I in the areas covered by Cluster 6, notably on the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions.

Link Link to Programme
The contribution of forest management to climate action: pathways, trade-offs and co-benefits
Description of call
"The contribution of forest management to climate action: pathways, trade-offs and co-benefits"

Expected Outcome

Project results are expected to contribute to some of the following expected outcomes:

  • A comprehensive assessment of the climate mitigation potential of European forests and forest-based sector through modelling of different policy pathways, taking into account climate change related risks, physiological and biogeochemical responses to environmental change and management practices, adaptation needs, biodiversity goals, and the provision of other ecosystem services. The effects analysed have to include changes in carbon sequestration, forest health, productivity, substitution and biophysical factors, including the causes and time dynamics of these changes. The assessment of the potential and limits of forest-based products and biomass for energy in delivering climate benefits will inform public authorities on the most suitable approach to forest policy and forest bioeconomy.
  • Development and improvement of robust and transparent methodologies for high-resolution monitoring and reporting of forest carbon pools and their interactions through a combination of in-situ data collection and remote sensing methods to be used to advance land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) reporting under the UNFCCC and compliance under EU legislation. Methods developed under this action will additionally feed into the development of the Forest Information System for Europe (FISE).


Proposals under this topic should develop a comprehensive assessment of different pathways of the European forest GHG balance in view of the reviewed 2030 and 2050 climate targets and other relevant EU environmental legislation and objectives incorporating:

  • Biodiversity goals consistent with the EU Green Deal objectives and Biodiversity Strategy 2030 goals. Issues considered include the use non-native tree species, intensive thinning, transition between intensive and close-to-nature silviculture, and strict protection of forests.
  • Uncertainties related to climate change and natural disturbances risks.
  • Adaptation needs of existing and future forests, including factors determining their adaptation potential.
  • Mitigation potential of afforestation and other forest activities including their opportunity costs.
  • GHG impact of forest bioeconomy, including substitution effect of forest-based products and energy against realistic counterfactuals and with appropriate time dynamics.
  • Renewable energy targets and the needs of forest-based bioeconomy for sustainable domestically-sourced feedstock.
  • Biophysical effects, including changes in air temperature and precipitation associated to changes in surface albedo, land-surface properties, emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds, transpiration and heat flux.
  • Assessment of trade-offs and synergies between climate-oriented forest management, and other objectives, for example recreational and amenity values;

Having such models/assessment at their disposal and understanding their time dynamics, uncertainties and system boundaries, policy-makers will be better suited to incorporate forests in the design and evaluation of possible solutions and pathways for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Monitoring and reporting on changes to forest carbon stocks is essential for policymakers (both national and European) in order to be informed of trends in the forest sink evolution and to develop annual approximated greenhouse gas inventories. Actions should support the use of higher tier (and higher accuracy) methodologies and geographically explicit land-use data in accordance with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and its 2019 Refinement. Especially needed are actions to fill existing gaps resulting from inventory bias towards the most economically relevant tree species and carbon pools.

Proposals under this topic should therefore aim to develop knowledge, tools, models, databases and country- and region-specific values available to Member States and Associated Countries, where possible integrating with Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and climate models to improve monitoring and reporting of forest carbon pools. Remote sensing data sets can be helpful in estimating or verifying forest living biomass gains and losses, forest area changes, forest health status and in identifying carbon-rich old-growth forests or natural disturbances. Sample-based systems, on the other hand, should support mapping changes in other forest carbon pools such as soil organic carbon in mineral and organic soils, and dead organic matter. More robust estimation of fluxes among these forest carbon pools, which are often neglected in greenhouse gas inventories, will assist in estimating their importance as carbon reservoirs and the role that forest management can play in enhancing them, taking into account biodiversity needs and resilience. Considering biophysical effects will improve the understanding of trade-offs among climate objectives and their articulation with forest management practices.

Actions should envisage coordinating activities with other relevant actions, initiatives and programmes, including Horizon 2020 Work Programmes and the LIFE Programme, COPERNICUS and relevant research infrastructures to promote synergies, integration and co-operation. They should make use and contribute to knowledge exchange and networking European platforms and consider devising a novel decision-making platform to ensure effective dissemination of the results to the target stakeholders (i.e. policy-makers and relevant national competent authorities). Cooperation and planning for further exploitation of actions results during and after the project end is strongly encouraged.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Administration & Governance, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 6.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 18.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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