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Climate Action
Decoratove image showing some type of land use (forestry, cropland, settlement)
Land use sector

Find out about the crucial role the land use sector plays in fighting climate change, and what the EU is doing in this field.


The land use sector encompasses the management of cropland, grassland, wetlands, forests, settlements, as well as changes in land use including afforestation (i.e., planting trees), deforestation, or draining of peatlands. With agricultural and forest lands covering more than three-quarters of the EU’s territory, the land use sector offers significant carbon sequestration and emission reduction opportunities.

Carbon sinks and sources

Land can serve as both a carbon sink, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, and a carbon source, releasing CO2 through activities such as deforestation. Sustainable land management practices, including afforestation and protection of existing carbon stocks, have great potential for carbon sequestration. Moreover, carbon can be stored in the long term in durable products made of sustainably sourced wood.

Climate change-related challenges – such as wildfires, windthrow, and pest vulnerabilities, as well as unsustainable management practices – are threatening the capacity of the land use sector to act as a net carbon sink, absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits. Climate change is also causing losses in agricultural production and reducing suitable areas for crop cultivation. These challenges are putting the livelihoods of those dependent on the sector in danger.

What is the Land use, land-use change and forestry Regulation (LULUCF)?

To address the above-mentioned challenges and leverage opportunities for climate action, the EU has implemented robust legislative frameworks. One of those is the revised Regulation on land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF), which aims to enhance governance, promote transparency, and strengthen the link between climate mitigation and environmental protection measures.

Key provisions include:

Ambitious net carbon removal targets

Ambitious, fair and binding net carbon removal national targets for the land use sector. Member States must align their national plans with these targets, promoting sustainable land management practices and carbon farming schemes.

Synergies for Climate & Biodiversity

Promotion of synergies between climate mitigation and environmental protection measures to address the climate and biodiversity crises.

Simplified reporting rules

Simplification of reporting rules to align with international standards and increase transparency.

Advanced monitoring technologies

Use of datasets obtained via advanced land monitoring technologies, such as satellites, to improve monitoring, reporting, and verification of emissions and removals.

The revised Regulation consists of two periods:

  1. Period 1: 2021 - 2025

    The measures established by the first LULUCF Regulation (EU) 2018/841 continue to apply. The revision of the Regulation does not affect the current “no debit” rule according to which each Member State must ensure that accounted emissions from land use are compensated by at least an equivalent amount of accounted removals. The revision also includes mechanisms addressing impact from and adaptation to natural disturbances.

  2. Period 2: 2026 - 2030

    This period expands the territorial scope of the Regulation to cover all managed land and introduces the EU-wide net removals target for 2030, aiming to increase EU's net removals by about 15% and reverse declining trends. Compliance rules are simplified, moving from accounting benchmarks to reported emissions and removals, leveraging precise data obtained via advanced monitoring technologies. This includes the use of geographical data and remote sensing.

Policy planning

Member States must integrate land use considerations into their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) and CAP Strategic Plans, ensuring alignment with the targets set out in the revised LULUCF Regulation and the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). To support Member States in designing and implementing land sector policies, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) have published a LULUCF handbook.

LULUCF handbook

A comprehensive guide designed to:

  • Explain all aspects of the LULUCF Regulation, including reporting requirements, with practical tips, examples, and case studies from Member States. 
  • Improve the quality of data on GHG emissions and removals in the land use sector by using the latest methodologies and monitoring data. 
  • Share knowledge and experience on enhancing GHG monitoring in the land sector to effectively implement land sector policies.

The handbook is available on its dedicated web page


To engage stakeholders in the land use sector, it is essential to reward land managers for adopting sustainable practices. These include measures to promote carbon removals, preserve existing carbon stocks, and enhance biodiversity through initiatives like carbon farming. Moreover, using sustainably sourced durable wood and biobased carbon storage products, such as in buildings, can foster a circular bioeconomy.

Funding for carbon farming initiatives can come from various sources:

  • The EU offers support through programmes like the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), LIFEHorizon Europe (including the Soil Mission), and the Cohesion Fund.
  • Revised State aid rules can facilitate the adoption of sustainable practices.
  • Private initiatives, including participation in carbon markets, can complement public funding and promote the wider adoption of carbon farming practices.
  • The EU established a regulatory framework for Carbon Removals Certification to ensure credibility and transparency, encouraging investments in sustainable land management and scaling up carbon removal initiatives beyond 2030.


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