Public consultation on new EU Forest Strategy

As part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission has launched an online public consultation on the development of a new EU Forest Strategy.

The strategy, which the commission will adopt later this year, will build on the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, cover the whole forest cycle and promote the many services that forests provide.

The strategy will also be aimed at ensuring healthy and resilient forests that contribute significantly to biodiversity and climate goals; reduce and respond to natural disasters; secure livelihoods and support a circular bioeconomy and rural communities.

Holistic approach

The commission has said that the strategy will further help the EU to meet its international commitments and will form the basis of a consistent and holistic approach on forests.

Executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said:

“To reach climate neutrality and reverse biodiversity loss, we need to protect and restore forests everywhere, including in the EU.

Healthy forests are crucial for our wellbeing. They stock carbon and remove it from the atmosphere, and they provide food, medicines, materials and space for recreation.

“Our forests now are in a dire state and we must take urgent action to reverse the decline.”

Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski added:

“Forests and their managers are fundamental contributors in pursuing climate neutrality, securing rural areas and building a resilient EU.

“Therefore this is an opportunity for all stakeholders, member states, forest owners and managers, rural dwellers and citizens to provide their views on how our forests, sustainably managed, can contribute to our commitment to the European Green Deal.”

Public and private input

The consultation aims to gather the views of citizens, institutions and organisations from the public and private sectors on how to overcome the challenges forests face, in particular in relation to climate change, biodiversity loss, their role in rural areas, socio‑economic welfare, and disaster risk management.

It also looks into how to mobilise EU support instruments, forest monitoring, forest-based industries, and its target of planting 3 billion trees by 2030, while ensuring the EU’s global leadership.

Citizens and organisations are invited to share their views on the potential objectives and actions of the new EU Forest Strategy until April 19, 2021.

Importance of forestry

The EU’s forest area and other wooded land has been growing in the past few decades and covers about 45% of EU land.

However, the commission has said that forest ecosystems are under increasing pressure as a result of climate change, which aggravates other key drivers of pressures such as pests, diseases, extreme weather events and forest fires.

Other pressures:

  • Rural abandonment;
  • Lack of management and fragmentation due to land use changes;
  • Increasing management intensity due to rising demand for wood, forest products and energy;
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Urbanisation and land take.

According to the EU Commssion, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) plays a key role in forests and the forest-based sector contributing to a modern, climate-neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy.