A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector

The Strategy in a nutshell

While the Treaty on the Functioning the EU makes no reference to specific provisions for an EU forest policy, the EU has a long history of contributing through its policies to implementing sustainable forest management and to Member States’ decisions on forests.

Important developments include:

  • the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs,
  • the Resource Efficiency Roadmap,
  • Rural Development Policy,
  • Industrial Policy,
  • the EU Climate and Energy Package with its 2020 targets,
  • the Plant Health and Reproductive Materials Strategy and
  • the Biodiversity and Bioeconomy Strategies.

Following a new approach, the Strategy “goes out of the forest”, addressing aspects of the value chain i.e. the way forest resources are used to generate goods and services, which strongly influence forest management.

The Strategy highlights that forests are not only important for rural development, but also for the environment – especially for biodiversity; for forest-based industriesbioenergy; and in the fight against climate change

Stressing the need of an holistic approach, it also emphasizes that impacts of other policies on forests as well as developments taking place beyond forest boundaries should be taken into account.

In addition, the new strategy underlines that forest-linked EU policies should fully be taken into account in national forest policies.

Finally, it calls for a Forest Information System to be set up and for Europe-wide harmonised information on forests to be collected.

 

The former EU Forestry Strategy dates back to 1998. Based on cooperation between EU and Member States (subsidiarity and shared responsibility), it established a framework for forest-related actions supporting sustainable forest management.

 

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Multi-functionality and sustainability in the European Union’s forests

On April 2017, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council’s (EASAC’s) published the 32th Policy Report “Multi-functionality and sustainability in the European Union’s forests”.

Summary:

This report points out that the principles of sustainable forest management (SFM) applied in the EU recognise the multi-functionality of forests and the need to maintain the ecological functions of forests and their ecosystem services, while fulfilling their economic and social functions. However, Europe’s forest ecosystems are already under pressure due to existing impacts of climate change and forest management, and are expected to become more stressed in the future. In addition to climate change, human efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change can both positively and negatively affect biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Our analyses thus shows tensions between some of the objectives of SFM—especially between demands for increased extraction of biomass from forests and the contributions made by the same biomass in situ to soil fertility, biodiversity and protective functions. Other synergies and trade-offs exist in the way in which forests’ interaction with climate change mitigation is managed.

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IUFRO Unit 4.04.07 Risk Analysis: Managing Risk in Uncertain Times

21th-23th April, 2016 in Freiburg (Germany)

Summary.

Forest management planning and decision making have been able, in the past, to give only slight consideration to risk and uncertainty. Empirically-derived knowledge regarding the factors that are important in achieving desired ecosystem goods and services was plentiful, and uncertainty in this knowledge was generally not thought to be an important consideration. Today, our climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, and this rapidly changing climate is dramatically increasing our level of uncertainty regarding the biotic and abiotic processes that will determine the delivery of desired ecosystem goods and services. Under a changing climate the frequency and severity of natural disturbances are changing, post-disturbance (including post-harvesting) silvics are changing, and our models that attempt to capture these relationships are increasingly complex and uncertain. Overlaying all is a basic uncertainty in the details of our future climate and society’s response to it. Forest resource management is developing novel approaches, such as adaptive management, to deal with the uncertainties. At the same time, risk perception by decision-makers and multiple stakeholders (with competing demands) will play a major role in determining management strategies.

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rescEU: a new European system to tackle natural disasters

The European Commission has revealed ambitious new plans to strengthen Europe’s ability to deal with natural disasters.

The initiative comes in light of more complex and frequent natural disasters that have seriously affected many European countries over recent years. A key part of the proposal is the creation of rescEU, a reserve at European level of civil protection capabilities such as aerial forest fighting planes, special water pumps, urban search and rescue and field hospitals and emergency medical teams. These will complement national assets and will be managed by the European Commission in order to support countries hit by disasters such as floods, forest fires, earthquakes and epidemics. Alone in 2017, over 200 people were killed by natural disasters in Europe and over one million hectares of forest have been destroyed.

 

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Science for disaster risk management 2017: knowing better and losing less

The Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre has produced first flagship science report “Science for disaster risk management 2017: knowing better and losing less”. This report is the result of the multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary networking process and represents the combined effort of more than two hundred, mostly European, experts. It will support the integration of science into informed decision making through synthesizing and translating evidence for disaster risk management and strengthening the science-policy and science-operation interface.

Below you can find the latest version of the Executive Summary and the Entire Document.

European Forest Risk Facility

Investigating a roadmap for a fully operational risk facility

Recent years have shown an increase of natural disturbances and in particular those of large-scale nature, hitting forests in Europe as an effect of climate and land-use changes. The frequency and the severity of those disturbances striking European forests have led to the urge of taking action. The effort put through the policies and measures that have ensued, all pointed towards the need for a better monitoring of forest hazards and ensuring appropriate information and operational tools for supporting prevention and mitigation measures.

The ambition is to implement a facilitation platform where science can meet policy and practice by bringing key actors together and analyze thematic and operational needs. It aims at building the framework for core activity pillars for a smart, flexible, and innovative future European Forest Risk Facility.

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Find further information at http://www.friskgo.org/