The European Fee unveiled on Friday (16 July) its new forest technique – together with a dedication to plant not less than three billion further trees within the EU over the subsequent decade to enhance pure greenhouse gasoline removals.
Within the EU, forests account for about 38 p.c of the whole land floor. Finland (71-percent of whole land space) and Sweden (67 p.c) are probably the most heavily-forested nations, adopted by Slovenia, Estonia and Latvia.
Nevertheless, excessive climate occasions and the growing demand for forest companies and merchandise, pushed by wood-based bioenergy and worldwide commerce, has accelerated tree-cover loss within the final decade.
The new technique recognises the significance of forests within the battle in opposition to local weather change – but in addition their position within the renewable power mixture of the EU – of which wood-based bioenergy is the primary supply.
Nevertheless, for the primary time, the fee has warned that growing harvesting for long-lived wooden merchandise is unlikely to compensate for the discount of the web carbon sink related, urging member states to concentrate to “this risk”.
And – though many EU insurance policies have an effect on forests within the EU and past – forestry coverage continues to be primarily a nationwide competence.
The proposal says that the bio-economy ought to be “boosted within sustainable boundaries” in a means that minimises its impression on biodiversity.
Under the up to date renewable power directive, the fee has additionally strengthened its “sustainability criteria” used to decide whether or not a type of forest biomass could be thought-about renewable.
For instance, major and old-growth forests (each highly-biodiverse forests) could be fully protected in opposition to burning biomass. However they solely characterize round three p.c of EU forested land.
Moreover, the proposal bolstered the so-called “cascade principle” – in a bid to cut back using high quality roundwood (timber which is left as small logs) for power manufacturing.
Under this precept, wooden ought to be used as a lot as potential for long-lived supplies and merchandise – similar to buildings and furnishings.
The technique additionally emphasises the necessity to set out incentives to reward forest-owners for biodiversity-friendly administration practices – with a “closer-to-nature” voluntary certification scheme.
Nevertheless, inexperienced teams have denounced the proposal for conserving financial incentives to harvest and burn forest biomass, and falling quick on safeguards.
In 2018, energy-producers burning biomass within the EU acquired greater than €10bn in public subsidies.
“The demand for wood is only increasing, and while the Forest Strategy is proposing some measures to protect our forests and the biodiversity that depends on them, it simply is not enough to guarantee the survival of nature,” mentioned Martin Harper from NGO BirdLife Europe
Equally, Kelsey Perlman, from the NGO Fern, mentioned that the technique can not tackle the demand for wooden, pushed by the EU regulation on renewables, and the promotion of the bioeconomy. “The proposed remedies are too timid to face up to the challenge,” he mentioned.
Since 2007, no reporting necessities for EU member states are in place, and due to this fact info in regards to the standing of forests within the EU is restricted and fragmented.
Nevertheless, students utilizing satellite tv for pc pictures estimated in 2020 that the cover – the vegetation cowl of treetops – of greater than 36 million forest areas in Europe has been misplaced over the previous 30 years.
Under the EU forest technique, the fee has dedicated to placing ahead a legislative proposal for an EU-wide built-in forest-monitoring framework – together with strategic plans for forests to be developed by nationwide competencies.
However the proposal has been weakened by trade lobbyists and member states. The earlier draft contained obligatory indicators for assessing whether or not a forest is “sustainably” managed.