This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
European Union forest action plan
The action plan provides a coherent framework for forest-related initiatives at European Union level. It also serves as an instrument for coordinating European initiatives with the Member States' forest policies. The plan proposes 18 key actions which will be implemented over five years (2007-2011).
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 June 2006 on an EU Forest Action Plan [COM(2006) 302 final - not published in the Official Journal].
Forests are an important sphere for the European Union (EU): they cover 37.8 % of European territory and provide a living for 3.4 million people (forestry and forest-based industries). Moreover, the EU is the second-largest producer of industrial round timber after the United States and produces approximately 80 % of the world's cork. In the context of climate change, forests also play an important role - not only as regards trapping carbon, but also through the production of biomass *, and their potential in terms of renewable forms of energy. Lastly, forests are socially and culturally important: attractive to city dwellers, they provide opportunities for recreational and healthy activities and represent a not inconsiderable cultural heritage.
The European Commission has therefore set four main objectives to be implemented in order to optimise the sustainable management and multifunctional role of the EU's forests:
These objectives translate into a series of 18 key actions, which the European Commission and the Member States will implement jointly. The action plan also provides for additional measures, which the Member States can implement depending on their specific characteristics and their priorities, in some cases with the aid of existing Community instruments.
Improving long-term competitiveness
The competitiveness of forestry is essential. The sector has great potential to develop new products and services of high quality in response to growing demand as a source of renewable raw material. The Commission proposes five key actions for this objective:
Improving and protecting the environment
The overall objective is to maintain and appropriately enhance biodiversity, carbon sequestration, integrity, health and resilience of forest ecosystems at various geographical scales. In this regard, the Commission proposes the following key actions:
In addition, Member States may - with the support of the EAFRD and the instrument Life+ - promote measures in favour of forests (Natura 2000), agri-forestry systems, support restoration of forests damaged by natural disasters and fire, support studies on the causes of forest fires, awareness-raising campaigns.
Contributing to a better quality of life
The Commission considers it important to preserve and support the cultural and social dimension of forests. To do so, it has identified the following key actions:
In addition, Member States may - with support from the ERDF - enhance investment and sustainable management of forests for better prevention of natural disasters.
Fostering coordination and communication
While forest policy is a matter for the Member States, many initiatives with an impact on forest management are carried out at European level. This therefore requires improved coherence and cross-sectoral cooperation in order to balance economic, environmental and socio-cultural objectives at different organisational and institutional levels.
In addition, the Member States are encouraged to organise visibility events, such as a "Forest Week" or "Forest Day", to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable forest management.
The Commission will carry out a mid-term evaluation of the action plan in 2009 and an overall evaluation in 2012.
In December 1998 the Council adopted a resolution on a forestry strategy for the European Union. The Commission then submitted a report on the implementation of this strategy over five years and proposed inter alia launching an EU action plan on sustainable forest management. In May 2005 the Council meeting on agriculture and fisheries asked the Commission to draw up that action plan.
Key terms of the act
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 10 March 2005 - Reporting on the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy [COM(2005) 84 final - not published in the Official Journal].
Last updated: 27.10.2011