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Document 52013DC0659

European Union strategy for forests and the forest-based sector

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European Union strategy for forests and the forest-based sector

In 2013, with the input of European Union (EU) countries and stakeholders (such as forest-owners, industry and environmental groups), the European Commission published a strategy to ensure that the EU’s forests and forest sector are ready to face future challenges.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector (COM(2013) 0659 final of 20.9.2013).

SUMMARY

In 2013, with the input of European Union (EU) countries and stakeholders (such as forest-owners, industry and environmental groups), the European Commission published a strategy to ensure that the EU’s forests and forest sector are ready to face future challenges.

WHAT DOES THIS EU FORESTRY STRATEGY DO?

  • 1.

    It highlights forestry’s contribution to sectors, such as rural development (jobs and incomes), fighting climate change (absorbing carbon), biodiversity, resources for energy and industry, etc.

  • 2.

    It looks at the challenges facing the sector and how to address them.

  • 3.

    It stresses the need for a holistic approach, while taking account of other policies’ effects on forests.

  • 4.

    It identifies ways to improve sustainable forest management.

  • 5.

    It encourages forest-related EU policies to be fully taken into account in national forestry policies.

  • 6.

    It calls for the setting up of a Forest Information System to collect harmonised EU-wide data on forests.

  • 7.

    It aims to further strengthen coordination and policy coherence of forest-related initiatives.

KEY POINTS

A new policy framework is required to ensure that forestry’s various roles are delivered in a balanced way. Forest-related policies need to be coordinated and involve synergies with other sectors. Forests must be positioned in a way that ensures their maximum contribution to EU objectives.

The strategy identifies eight priorities.

  • Supporting communities: the EU’s rural development policy is one of the main instruments used to implement the strategy. EU funds can be used, for example, to help modernise forestry technologies or improve the resilience (i.e. ability to respond to shocks, such as fires and storms), environmental value and mitigation potential (i.e. absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) of forest ecosystems. This boosts competitiveness, quality of life and economic diversification.
  • Promoting competitive and sustainable EU forest-based industries, bioenergy and the wider green economy: wood is natural, renewable, reusable and recyclable. Forests, and the raw materials derived from them, can provide jobs and diversify income.
  • Changing climate: maintaining and increasing forests’ resilience and adaptive capacity, such as through fire prevention and other adaptive solutions (e.g. appropriate species, plant varieties, etc.) and increasing forests’ mitigation potential.
  • Protecting forests and enhancing ecosystem services: forests’ ecosystems provide services and raw materials and host biodiversity. They need protection to ensure their resilience and multifunctionality.
  • Improving the forest knowledge base: expanding forest-related knowledge will allow a better understanding of the complex environmental and societal challenges the sector faces.
  • New and innovative forestry and added-value products: a coherent and ambitious EU forest-based research area (i.e. where there is a free flow of knowledge, technology and researchers) is needed to fuel innovation across the sector.
  • Working together to manage and understand forests: coordination, cooperation and communication are vital for consistent policy.
  • Forests from a global perspective: ensuring consistency between EU and EU countries’ policies and commitments on forest-related issues (such as deforestation or supporting sustainable management) at global level.

BACKGROUND

The 2013 strategy builds on the former (1998) EU Forestry Strategy. It created a framework for actions supporting sustainable management, involving EU countries working together on a range of policies and initiatives.

For more information, see the European Commission’s website.

last update 03.04.2015

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