Last December, the European Commission published a progress report on the implementation of the EU Forest Strategy, discussed by the European Parliament in January.
This report comes at a time when forests and the forestbased sector are recognised as essential players in responding to major societal and environmental challenges. In a round table organised on 4th February, the European forest-based sector conveyed a joint and clear message: an updated and stronger EU Forest Strategy is needed to ensure that in the coming decades forestrelated EU policies are better coordinated and endorse sustainable forest management and the multifunctional role of forests in a consistent way.
Forests and the forest-based sector are increasingly expected to deliver on recent and coming horizontal and sectoral EU policies (e.g: the Renewable Energy Directive; the updated EU Bioeconomy Strategy; the LULUCF Regulation; the future Common Agricultural Policy; Sustainable Investments). A coalition of forest and forest-based sector associations have brought together around 60 representatives from EU institutions, the Romanian Presidency of the Council, research and stakeholders to exchange views on the future of the EU Forest Strategy and to explore possible ways forward to strengthen sustainable forest management in EU forest-related policies.
In their “Call for an updated and stronger EU Forest Strategy“ the undersigned organisations pointed out the following EU policies addressing forests:
- The 2050 Climate Change Mitigation Strategy that aims to maximize the potential of carbon storage in forests while providing raw materials for renewable products used to substitute for non-renewable materials as well as for energy.
- The land use and forestry regulation for 2021-2030 which commits Member States, for the first time in EU law, to compensate land use and forestry sector emissions by CO2 removals within the sector.
- The European Commission proposal for a taxonomy of sustainable investments which recognizes the central importance of sustainable forest management for protecting ecosystems.
- The EU Renewable Energy Directive that sets out bioenergy sustainability criteria related to forest management and GHG emissions savings.
- The updated EU Bioeconomy Strategy that encourages the transition to a more biobased circular economy, bringing new opportunities for jobs and growth to rural areas.
- The future CAP which is the main instrument at EU level to finance measures that support SFM and investments for enhancing the sustainability and competitiveness of the forestry sector.
- The EU Biodiversity Strategy which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU and which the Commission has recently started to evaluate.
- During the discussion, several stakeholders highlighted that the Commission progress report refrains from making concrete recommendations for the post 2020 period and reiterated their call for an updated and stronger EU Forest Strategy to provide consistency among EU policies.
Mr Ionel Popa, a representative of the Romanian Presidency, indicated that the Council is working on its conclusions on the progress report that will also cover the role of the EU Forest Strategy beyond 2020.
Ms Jytte Guteland, Member of the European Parliament, stated that “the EU Forest Strategy should help to develop common ideas on sustainable forest management in order to ensure consistency when working on EU policies dealing with forests”.
Mr Nils Torvalds, Member of the European Parliament commented: “Forestry can play a great role in achieving climate change objectives, but it can’t do this alone.”
Following European organisations undersigned the call to the Commission,the Parliament and the Council to propose an updated and stronger EU Forest Strategy before the end of 2019:
CEETTAR – European Organisation of Agricultural, Rural and Forestry Contractors
CEI-BOIS – European Confederation of the Woodworking Industries
CEJA – European Council of Young Farmers
CEPF – Confederation of European Forests Owners
CEPI – Confederation of European Paper Industries
COPA COGECA - European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives
EFFAT – European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
ELO – European Landowners’ Organization
EUSTAFOR – European State Forest Association
FECOF - European Federation of organizations representing forest municipalities
UEF – Union of European Foresters
USSE – L’Union des Sylviculteurs du Sud de l’Europe