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The EU forestry strategy
Forests can contribute both to the Lisbon objectives concerning economic growth and competitiveness * and to the Göteborg objectives concerning the conservation of natural resources *. In order to maintain this contribution, the EU forestry strategy needs to be adapted to a more open and global market and to the current policy context. With this aim in view, the Commission is proposing a Community action plan for the sustainable, multipurpose management of EU forestry resources.
Communication of 10 March 2005 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - Reporting on the implementation of the EU forestry strategy [COM(2005) 84 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
In this communication, the Commission analyses the progress made since the EU forestry strategy was launched in 1998 and the new problems now facing the sector. While keeping to the basic principles formulated in the 1998 strategy, but taking the view that the context has considerably altered since then, the Commission is proposing further action for the future.
The EU forest sector
Forests and other wooded land occupy 35% of the EU's land area, or some 160 million hectares. They contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of soil and water resources. In addition, forestry and related activities employ about 3.4 million people, given that the EU is among the largest producers, traders and consumers in the world where forest products are concerned.
Various factors can cause damage to forests: pollution, storms, fires, and problems relating to biotic factors and grazing.
The EU forestry strategy
Forest policy falls within the sphere of competence of the Member States, but the EU can contribute to the implementation of forest management through common policies based on subsidiarity and shared responsibility. Sustainable forest management is therefore based on coordinating the forest policies of the Member States and Community policies and initiatives.
The national level
At national level, forestry policy is implemented through the national forest programmes (NFPs). The NFPs address issues such as the productive function of forests and their contribution to rural development, their role in the protection and enhancement of biodiversity, and the related social, recreational and cultural aspects. With a view to improving cross-sectoral cooperation, the NFPs need to be fully embedded in the national sustainable development strategies.
The Community level
Community action in support of forest management covers several areas of activity, in particular:
In this context, the EU and its Member States take account of the commitments deriving from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) * and the follow-up conferences, as well as the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. (MCPFE) *.
An EU action plan for sustainable forest management
To develop an effective strategy for sustainable forest management, the Commission considers it necessary:
The development of an EU action plan for sustainable forest management will provide an appropriate framework for laying the foundations for a dynamic structure consistent with the current policy context and the Lisbon and Göteborg strategies. The plan would also provide a coherent framework for the implementation of forest-related action and serve as an instrument for coordination between Community action and Member States' forest policies. The action to be taken at Community level should cover several areas, ranging from socio-economic issues to environmental issues as well as the use of wood as an energy source. The action plan will also address issues relating to governance, cross-sectoral activities and coordination, communication and cooperation issues.
The Commission proposes to present the action plan in 2006.
Key terms used in the act
Communication of 3 November 1998 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on a forestry strategy for the European Union [COM(1998) 649 final - Not published in the Official Journal]. In this communication, the Commission presents a coherent outline for a forestry strategy for the European Union (EU) the overall aim that is the development and sustainable management of forests. This approach is to be defined in and implemented through national or subnational forest programmes.
Council conclusions of 30 May 2005 on a European Union forest action plan [Not published in the Official Journal] The Council thought that the action plan should address the economic, ecological and social dimensions of sustainable forest management, also within the international context, in a balanced way. It also thought that the action plan should encompass both Community forest-related measures and such measures in the Member States, including national forest programmes.
Further information is available on the Forestry measures home page of website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture.
Last updated: 29.11.2005