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SUSTAINFOR: Sustainability assessment of forest sector management strategies in the context of a bioeconomy

Reference: PTDC/AGR-FOR/1510/2014 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016764)


Coordinator: Ana Cláudia Dias (CESAM-UA)

Coordinator at ADAI-LAETA: Fausto Freire

Proponent Institution: CESAM-UA

Projects Partners: UA, CIE- ADAI

Funding Entity: FEDER/FCT | PTDC/AGR-FOR/1510/2014 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016764)

Funding: 199 992 €


Project Objectives


The forest sector has a relevant role to the bioeconomy, a key policy strategy of the European Union in which renewable resources such as forest biomass are used to meet society’s needs for energy, chemicals and raw materials. Despite all the opportunities and advantages of a transition to a bioeconomy, it puts the challenge of making woody resources scarcer, which is already a reality in some countries such as Portugal.

Different management and policy strategies for using the available woody resources more efficiently could be adopted to tackle this problem. One size fits all strategies are not adequate do find solutions in this case and, therefore, alternative strategies should be defined and assessed to correctly inform decision makers. However, this is a very complex issue with important trade-offs that calls for a comprehensive analysis of the long-term sustainability impacts of the supply chain as a whole to guarantee that the use of the woody resources is done sustainably.

This project aims to assess, for the first time, the effects of the transition to a bioeconomy on the eucalypt and maritime pine forest sectors in Portugal, in order to provide insights for improved policy and decision-making concerning the choice of more sustainable solutions taking into account the three pillars of sustainability (environmental, economic and social). These forest sectors are very important in Portugal as almost all the wood harvested in the country comes from eucalypt and maritime pine forests.

The project will provide answers to the following questions:

- What are the current total environmental, economic and social impacts of the eucalypt and maritime pine forest sectors in Portugal?

- How these current impacts can be decreased?

- What are the possible alternative management strategies for these forest sectors in the future?

- What are the environmental, economic and social impacts of those possible future scenarios?

- What are the most sustainable scenarios that should be adopted in the future?

Although the case study of eucalypt and maritime pine forest sectors in Portugal will be addressed, the results will be valuable also for other countries as the efficient use of forest resources is a widely recognized challenge in our society.

This project will adopt a life cycle approach to quantify the environmental, economic and social impacts by using Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA), which is an emergent tool that combines Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA). The full value chain will be considered from the forest up to the use and final disposal of products such as paper, solidwood products, fuels and bio-based chemical products. Substitution effects (of fossil fuels and more energy intensive materials) will also be assessed. Trade-offs between the sustainability pillars, sectors, subsectors and impacts will be identified.

The project will be also innovative from a methodological point of view as it will contribute for improving the operationalization of LCSA, which has been the focus of intense research in the last few years. Besides, it will also contribute for the methodological development regarding accounting of biogenic carbon and green water flows, which are particularly relevant for bio-based systems, but robust and consensual accounting methodologies are still missing. Therefore, the project will be also relevant for the international scientific community, as it would contribute for improving the robustness of LCA and LCSA, which are powerful tools for understanding, quantifying and communicating the sustainability of products and, consequently, for supporting decision-making towards better informed choices.


Project website: http://sustainfor.web.ua.pt/en


Research Team



Fausto Miguel Cereja Seixas Freire

João Manuel Nogueira Malça de Matos Ferreira

Rita Pinheiro Garcia

Pedro Marques



Ana Cláudia Dias (PI)

Luís Arroja

Paula Quinteiro

Tamíris Costa

Daniele Costa

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   Projeto cofinanciado pela União Europeia.