Climate change and transition towards a bioeconomy are seen as both challenges and opportunities for the forest-based sector in Europe. Transition towards a bioeconomy will in most cases rely on intensified use of renewable resources and/or advancement in technology. However, how can the intensified use of renewable resources be combined with climate change mitigation measures to increase carbon sinks in the forest-based sector? Additionally, what are the possible socio-economic and environmental impacts of intensified wood use? In this study, we examined the impacts of increased wood utilisation in Lithuania. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of increased domestic wood utilisation on: (i) employment; (ii) the economic performance of the sector; (iii) carbon in forest biomass and soil; and (iv) carbon in harvested wood products (HWP). The system boundaries were set in accordance with international greenhouse gas reporting to include only domestic wood flows. We assessed alternative wood utilisation scenarios using a forest resource model and a tool to assess sustainability impacts of (wood) value chains, using country specific data on wood (carbon) flows. Our results indicate that increased wood use could lead to trade-offs between six selected indicators. Opportunities for employment and the economic performance of the forest-based sector improved in all scenarios due to increased wood utilisation. However, when forest fellings increased, the carbon stored in forests decreased, the carbon stored in HWP increased, but overall the total carbon stored in forests and HWP decreased. When considering also additional substitution effects until the year 2100, the scenario with reduced wood exports generated larger total climate change mitigation effects than the baseline. Our results suggest that increased wood utilisation might support Lithuania’s bioeconomy through increased socio-economic benefits. National positive climate change mitigation effects could be gained only if additional actions to utilise more domestic wood for long-life HWP will be taken.
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