Despite fierce lobbying from some Member States, the European Council today gave a green light for efforts to start protecting Europe’s forests. The Council adopted Conclusions on the EU Forest Strategy which gives the EU Commission the mandate to move ahead on the Strategy’s positive measures, notably a new regulation on Forest Observation, Reporting and Data Collection, which would allow for a better understanding of forest management and climate change impacts in managed forests.
“This is potentially a game changing day for Europe’s forests,“ said Kelsey Perlman, Forest and Climate Campaigner at Fern. “They have been battered by climate change, pests and diseases. They are less biodiverse and absorb 15 per cent less carbon dioxide than they did 15 years ago. When people think of forests being destroyed, they think of the Amazon, but European forests are also plagued by declining health. The Council’s decision is a first step and Member States must now rise to the challenge. The EU’s Forest Strategy has already helped spark a European debate about the future of our forests.”
The Council decision comes after weeks of scaremongering from some forestry sector actors, who tried to water down the Council’s reaction and go back to business as usual. The Council’s endorsement places the European Commission in a strong position to move ahead with the Strategy’s main initiatives.
Kelsey Perlman explained: “The Council Conclusions are far from perfect and include some ambiguous text, but the main takeaway is that agriculture ministers have accepted the Commission’s overall proposal, including a new law to better monitor unprotected EU forests.”
“Forested countries now need to work together to create strong tools to monitor and improve the health of our forests. EU incentives to produce wood-based products and energy must make way for incentives to protect forests, limit over-logging, and address the effects that climate breakdown is having. With 85 per cent of the protected forests in poor or bad condition, this has clearly yet to happen!”