BRUSSELS European Union climate experts launched a consultation on Friday into the complex issue of accounting for greenhouse emissions from forestry, and new data showed 2009 emissions fell for the sixth year running.
About 410 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were removed from the atmosphere in 2008 by the EU forestry sector, equal to 8 percent of emissions from the EU's 27 member states, the European Commission said as it launched the consultation.
Some countries include the sector, known as Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), in their emissions cutting targets under the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol.
But the EU does not take account of LULUCF under its internal climate laws, which envisage a cut to one fifth below 1990 levels over the next decade.
Meanwhile, the European Environment Agency published estimates on Friday showing all greenhouse gas emissions fell 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2009, largely due to the economic slowdown.
"The sharp drop in overall EU greenhouse gas emissions last year is not a surprise seen in the light of the economic crisis," said Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
"But the EU emissions had already been falling steadily for several years before the recession hit, putting us well on track to meet or even over-achieve our Kyoto Protocol targets," she added.
Based on the 2009 estimates, emissions by the EU's 27 member states are roughly 17.3 percent below 1990 levels, not far off the internal 2020 climate targets.
Data in June from the BP oil group showed a 6.4 percent drop in carbon emissions, although the figure did not include other greenhouse gases such as methane.
(Editing by James Jukwey)