On 7 October, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Agriculture Committee’s report on the Forest Strategy. It is a confusing result. MEPs have said they wish to stop the loss of the world’s last remaining natural forests, but today they capitulated to industry and voted in favour of more intensive logging: the number-one threat to what remains of Europe’s once-vast natural forests.
Kelsey Perlman, Forests and Climate Campaigner, Fern, said: “The report flies in the face of science by ignoring the dire state of Europe’s forests. Rather than listen to the will of Europeans who overwhelmingly want action to protect nature, Parliament has ignored poor forest health and the increased loss of carbon dioxide from forests. This report is so conservative it could have been written by the forest industry. If MEPs won’t act when faced with unambiguous proof, when will they?”
The European Parliament opinion on the Forest Strategy reflects industry interests and undermines EU objectives on climate and biodiversity for three main reasons:
- It serves to promote management of commercial forests, saying – without regard for current trends - that this has “the very best impact on the climate”. The fact is that the heavily-managed forests of Europe are absorbing less and less carbon every year, and the sink is set to decline by a further 1/3 within the next decade.
- It does not acknowledge the need to protect and restore forests as laid out in the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
- It ignores the need to address the growing use of forest biomass through a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive.
Luke Edwards, Climate Change and Land Use Policy Officer, Birdlife said: “Even those who likely felt they were voting to help the forest sector have ignored trends in forest health and growing academic literature about the fallacy of the industry-derived term ‘Sustainable Forest Management’. The adopted report sets Europe down a path that will deplete the natural functioning of forests, reducing forests’ resilience to climate impacts like droughts and fires, and threatening both the ecosystem and those whose livelihoods depend on it.”
The opinion on the EU Forest Strategy Report contradicts established science by refusing to support the protection old growth forests and reiterating that “the new EU forest strategy should promote sustainable forest management”.
The European Commission proposal on the EU Forest Strategy is expected in the first quarter of next year.
Notes to editor:
- The overwhelming majority of Europeans are concerned about the loss of biodiversity and want stronger EU action to protect nature
- Less than a quarter of forest habitats protected under the EU Habitats Directive show a favourable conservation status
- Compared to 2005 levels, the EU carbon sink is expected to decline by 1/3 by 2030, as shown in National Energy and Climate Plans
- The Joint Research Centre outlined a 49% rise in clear-cut areas from 2016-2018 compared to the average from 2011-2015
- Out of 180 million hectares of EU forests, only 3.4 million hectares of primary forests are left (less than 2%) and many of these are not protected