Agriculture ministers from EU members states have formally called for curbing global deforestation following a meeting today (Monday, November 15).

The outcome of today’s Council of the EU (Agriculture and Fisheries) meeting is significant in terms of the EU-Mercosur Trade Deal, which is causing controversy due to the levels of deforestation in South America – particularly Brazil – to make way for the expansion in beef production there.

EU agriculture ministers met today to adopt an official stance on the European Commission’s EU Forest Strategy for 2030.

According to a council statement, ministers recognised the need for forests to contribute more to the European Green Deal and global targets.

The meeting saw ministers generally agree that a new EU forestry strategy should include an “international dimension” aimed at curbing global deforestation.

Among the other key points of agreement between ministers were: the role of forests for human health and a healthy natural environment; the role of forestry in the EU’s green circular economy; the importance of cooperation and constructive dialogue between member states, the commission, stakeholders and civil society; and promoting sustainable wood-based products.

However, the ministers also called for a balance to be struck between the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable forest management, highlighting the need for respecting and maintaining the diversity of forests and forest management practices across members states and regions.

The ministers also expressed doubt about the value of developing national strategic plans for forestry, instead calling for the use of existing international monitoring and reporting processes.

The commission originally published the EU Forestry Strategy for 2030 in July of this year. It is considered one of the “flagship elements” of the European Green Deal.

The strategy is planned to be a “key part” of meeting the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.

The commission set out a number of measures aimed at increasing the size and quality of Europe’s forests “and improving their resilience to challenges such as climate change while also supporting communities whose livelihoods depend on forestry”.