Commission Staff Working Document Accompanying the Document: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - A New EU Forest Strategy: For Forests and the Forest-Based Sector. European Commission 2013:98pp.
Commission Staff Working Document Accompanying the Document: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - A New EU Forest Strategy: For Forests and the Forest-Based Sector [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
[Excerpt] European forests serve different aims such as social (contribution to rural development), economical (raw materials like sawn wood for construction purposes or furniture, pulpwood for cellulose, insulation, packaging, paper and source of renewable energy), environmental (e.g. protection against soil erosion, avalanche control, regulation of streams and rivers, CO2 capture) and societal (e.g. recreation, employment in rural areas). 2.1. State of the EU's forests The EU currently contains 5 % of the world's forests and EU forests have continuously expanded for over 60 years, although recently at a lower rate. EU Forests and other wooded land now cover 155 million ha and 21 million ha respectively. This together means more than 42 % of EU land area is covered with forest and other wooded land. The Forest cover varies largely across Europe. The Member States with the largest proportions of wooded area are Finland and Sweden, where approximately three quarters of the land area is covered with forests or other wooded land. These same two Member States records the highest areas of wooded land per inhabitant, approximately ten times the EU average. Relatively high areas of wooded land per capita are also recorded in Estonia and Latvia. The least densely wooded EU Member States are Malta, the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom. State of the EU's forest sector The importance of forests goes far beyond the environmental role, although their social and economic importance tends to be underestimated. Forests contribute to rural development through the provision of secure employment with competitive incomes. Some 56\,% of the population in the EU live in rural area s, which cover 91\,% of the overall territory. Farming and forestry remain crucial for land use and the management of natural resources in the EU's rural areas as well as being a basis for economic diversification in rural communities. Wood is still the main source of income for most forest owners, delivering the raw material to the forest-based industries and to the bioenergy sector. Forest-based industries are an important industrial branch representing 7\,% of added value of total manufacturing in the EU and providing around 3 million jobs. These industries, in particular woodworking, were especially hit by changes affecting economies, with important impacts also being felt upstream. Woody biomass is also the most important source of renewable energy, representing 50\,% of the EU gross final energy consumption from renewable biomass sources. In addition, forests produce a large range of other products, such as cork, for which the EU accounts for 80\,% of worldwide production, resins, medicinal plants, mushrooms, truffles, game, nuts and berries. Resin is increasingly used by the chemical industry, which is contributing to a re-flourishing of resin extraction in the EU. EU rural development policy supports SFM and multifunctionality, contributing to further developing these non-wood products. [...] State of the policy environment. Despite the absence of a common forest policy, EU policies such as rural development, employment, climate change, energy, water and biodiversity influence Member States decisions on forests. There is a long history of the EU contributing to the implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM) through these other policies, see chapter 2.1.9. Based on the principle of subsidiarity and the concept of shared responsibility, the 1998 EU Forestry Strategy established a framework for forest-related actions in support of SFM, based on cooperative and beneficial linkages between the forest policies of the Member States and Community policies and initiatives relevant to forests. The Forest Action Plan covering the period 2007-2011 was the main instrument for its implementation addressing four objectives referring to competitiveness, environment, quality of life and coordination and communication, see also chapter 1.1. Forestry Measures under the Rural Development Regulation have been the main financial driver for the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy at the EU level. Other relevant measures include the Timber Regulation and FLEGT and the Renewable Energy Directive. The EU has also undertaken relevant international commitments. The Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All types of Forests under UNFF aims to strengthen political support and action to SFM but there are also several conventions in related areas relevant for forests. These include CBD and its Nagoya Protocol, FAO Commission of genetic resources for food and agriculture (CGRFA) including forest genetic resources, UNFCCC, UNCCD or CITES, OECD scheme for the certification of forest reproductive material. Special attention is being given to the on-going negotiations for establishing a Legally Binding Agreement for forests in the pan-European area, in which the EU is participating. [...] Forest Protection. European forests are threatened by biotic and abiotic agents, such as insects and other pests, diseases, grazing and invasive alien species, windstorms, forest fires, droughts, floods and avalanches. Both the nature and the effects of certain threats are trans-boundary and therefore actions at EU level increase the added value of the measures. The disturbances caused by these agents do have significant socioeconomic and environmental impacts and climate change effects will further exacerbate them, particularly through the increased frequency of extrem e events (storms, drought, floods and temperature extremes). Relevant policy instruments already provide support for prevention and restoration, such as for example, the EU Rural Development and regional policy measures, the EU legislation on Plant Health and Plant Reproductive Material, the Solidarity Fund, other Civil Protection Mechanisms. The use in forestry of high-quality reproductive material suited to the site in question is essential if the stability, disease-resistance, adaptation, productivity, diversity and overall resilience of forests are to be increased. [...] The fight against illegal logging. Illegal logging is the harvesting of timber in contravention of the laws and regulations of the country of harvest. Illegal logging is a global problem with significant negative economic, environmental and social impact. In economic terms illegal logging results in lost revenues and other foregone benefits. In environmental terms illegal logging is associated with deforestation, climate change and a loss of biodiversity. In social terms illegal logging can be linked to conflicts over land and resources, the disempowerment of local and indigenous communities, corruption and armed conflicts. Illegal activities also undermine the efforts of responsible operators by making available cheaper but illegal timber and timber products in the market place. The European Union's policy to fight illegal logging and associated trade was defined back in 2003 with the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. The key regions and countries targeted in the FLEGT Action Plan, which together contain nearly 60\,% of the world' s forest and supply a large proportion of internationally traded timber, are Central Africa, Russia, Tropical South America and Southeast Asia. The FLEGT Action Plan covers both supply and demand side measures to address illegal logging, and was endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers in November 2003. [...] Ecosystem services and biodiversity. Ecosystem services can be defined as the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. Thus, they are important for the environment as well as for social and economic reasons. Looking at the environmental side, forests are an important component of European nature. They are home to the largest number of species on the continent. The distinctive nature of European forest ecosystems is characterised by the fact that numerous species of trees, other plants or animals are restricted to Europe. 23\,% of the total forest resource within Europe is in Natura 2000 and forests and other wooded land represent around 50\,% of the total terrestrial Natura 2000 network. The Natura 2000 network of protected area s is the core instrument for achieving the 2020 targets of the EU biodiversity strategy, including a significant improvement of the conservation status of habitat types and species of Community interest and where possible the restoration of a favourable conservation status. Natura 2000 sites are not strict nature reserves. They are sites where human activities such as sustainable forest management are perfectly possible, but subject to the condition that they are compatible with the conservation objectives of the respective sites. This means that in most cases normal sustainable forest manage ment is possible without any restriction. In other cases, forest management may need to be adapted in order to avoid deterioration of protected habitats or disturbance of species. This strategy should therefore aim at further promoting the active role of forestry as an example, especially in Natura 2000 sites, of how environmental objectives and in particular nature conservation objectives can be pro-actively combined in a context of sustainable forest management. Forests play an important role in soil protection as the leaf litter and root structures enhance soil stability again erosion or landslide: This function can be particularly relevant during extreme rainfall events. Forests also provide multiple benefits for biodiversity and people. While some ecosystem functions, goods and services have a monetary value (e.g. wood), there are other ecosystem services which have to be 'valued' in other ways (e.g. recreation, cultural heritage, water and soil quality and quantity). By better valuing, maintaining and enhancing ecosystem goods and services, the EU will provide an effective mechanism for balancing different uses while in the same time also contributing to enhance forest biodiversity. [...] Water Policy. Forests have a key role in protecting drinking-water supplies. Forests shade snowpack, controlling the rate at which it melts, which water keeps flowing to streams, lakes and aquifers year-round. The trees also work to clean the water, filtering out pollutants and regulating the water's temperature to keep the aquatic ecosystem in balance. This is why appropriate forest management is crucial to two important aspects of water supply: provision of high-quality water to humans and water supply to the forest itself. This fits into the aim of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) on long-term sustainable water management based on a high level of protection of the aquatic environment. Article 4.1 defines the WFD general objective to be achieved in all surface and groundwater bodies, i.e. good status by 2015, and introduces the principle of preventing any further deterioration of status. [...] Climate change. Forests could make a significant contribution to achieving climate change mitigation objectives by absorbing carbon dioxide a nd storing carbon in trees and timber products. The EU land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors remove approximately 9\,% of greenhouse gases emitted in other parts of the economy and it provides bio-materials that can act as temporary carbon stores (harvested wood products, HWP) or as ” carbon substitutes”, replacing carbon intensive materials and 57 fuels. The Commission has adopted a decision on accounting rules for activities related to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) At the same time, forests are vulnerable to climate change impacts. Droughts, fires, storms, heat waves, and biotic agents will increasingly affect their composition and their functions, including the provision of renewable biomass and the ability to store/sequester carbon. It is therefore of great importance to maintain and enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of EU forests, including through fire prevention and other adaptive solutions (e.g. using reproductive material suitable to future climatic conditions). Some instruments are available under environment, rural development and research policies to promote and enhance the protection, management and use of forest resources, contributing to adaptation efforts such as: - The EUFGIS project funded by the second Community Programme on the characterisation, conservation, evaluation and utilisation of genetic resources has improved the documentation and management of dynamic conservation units of forest trees and created an online information system for forest genetic resources inventories in Europe towards sustainable forest management. - The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) supports the services in charge of the protection of forests against fires in the EU countries and provides with updated and reliable information on forest fires in Europe (see further in chapter 2.3.6). The EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, cross-sectoral by nature, also provides a short review of the expected impacts of climate change on EU forests. Still, the exact effects of climate change on forests are complex and not yet clearly understood, calling for additional efforts both on information sharing, on knowledge generation and on dissemination to policy makers and forest users across Europe. [...] Promoting competitive and sustainable supply of wood for the EU bioeconomy. The forest sector has all the attributes to take a major role in the European green economy, through exemplary sustainable management, including the development and application of ecosystem services principles, renewable energy use linked to an innovative forest industry developing intelligent bio-based products, more efficient and environmentally sound processing technologies. The natural, renewable and recyclable characteristic of wood makes its sustainable use environment and climate-friendly, positive for the society and for the low carbon economy, provided that limits to what forests can sustainably supply are respected, that the use of wood effectively contributes to climate change mitigation and that products are only sourced from sustainable forest management. Moreover non wood forest products are gaining higher interests in the markets. Forest biomass as a source of bioenergy provides to rural communities an opportunity to create sustainable new jobs and to diversify income. The Biomass Action Plan overviewed and set out measures to increase the development of biomass energy from wood, wastes and agricultural crops. The proportion of wood based energy currently is about 5 % of total EU energy supply. According to National Renewable Energy Action Plans it is expected that biomass will represent more than 10 % of the EU gross final energy consumption by 2020. In this context forestry biomass is set to play a significant role. Some Member States have already started an essential change of energy systems. More mobilisation of potential woody biomass resources for energy purposes will be required as demand grows, but it is extremely important that the biomass for energy purposes comes from forests that are sustainably managed. Renewable energy from forest sources is in itself an important contribution to the wider 'green economy'. [...]
@article{europeancommissionCommissionStaffWorking2013a,
  title = {Commission Staff Working Document Accompanying the Document: {{Communication}} from the Commission to the {{European Parliament}}, the {{Council}}, the {{European Economic}} and {{Social Committee}} and the {{Committee}} of the {{Regions}} - {{A}} New {{EU}} Forest Strategy: For Forests and the Forest-Based Sector},
  author = {{European Commission}},
  date = {2013-09},
  journaltitle = {Commission Staff Working Document},
  volume = {2013},
  pages = {98pp},
  url = {http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52013SC0342},
  abstract = {[Excerpt] European forests serve different aims such as social (contribution to rural development), economical (raw materials like sawn wood for construction purposes or furniture, pulpwood for cellulose, insulation, packaging, paper and source of renewable energy), environmental (e.g. protection against soil erosion, avalanche control, regulation of streams and rivers, CO2 capture) and societal (e.g. recreation, employment in rural areas). 2.1. State of the EU's forests The EU currently contains 5 \% of the world's forests and EU forests have continuously expanded for over 60 years, although recently at a lower rate. EU Forests and other wooded land now cover 155 million ha and 21 million ha respectively. This together means more than 42 \% of EU land area is covered with forest and other wooded land. The Forest cover varies largely across Europe. The Member States with the largest proportions of wooded area are Finland and Sweden, where approximately three quarters of the land area is covered with forests or other wooded land. These same two Member States records the highest areas of wooded land per inhabitant, approximately ten times the EU average. Relatively high areas of wooded land per capita are also recorded in Estonia and Latvia. The least densely wooded EU Member States are Malta, the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom. State of the EU's forest sector The importance of forests goes far beyond the environmental role, although their social and economic importance tends to be underestimated. Forests contribute to rural development through the provision of secure employment with competitive incomes. Some 56\,\% of the population in the EU live in rural area s, which cover 91\,\% of the overall territory. Farming and forestry remain crucial for land use and the management of natural resources in the EU's rural areas as well as being a basis for economic diversification in rural communities. Wood is still the main source of income for most forest owners, delivering the raw material to the forest-based industries and to the bioenergy sector. Forest-based industries are an important industrial branch representing 7\,\% of added value of total manufacturing in the EU and providing around 3 million jobs. These industries, in particular woodworking, were especially hit by changes affecting economies, with important impacts also being felt upstream. Woody biomass is also the most important source of renewable energy, representing 50\,\% of the EU gross final energy consumption from renewable biomass sources. In addition, forests produce a large range of other products, such as cork, for which the EU accounts for 80\,\% of worldwide production, resins, medicinal plants, mushrooms, truffles, game, nuts and berries. Resin is increasingly used by the chemical industry, which is contributing to a re-flourishing of resin extraction in the EU. EU rural development policy supports SFM and multifunctionality, contributing to further developing these non-wood products. [...] State of the policy environment. Despite the absence of a common forest policy, EU policies such as rural development, employment, climate change, energy, water and biodiversity influence Member States decisions on forests. There is a long history of the EU contributing to the implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM) through these other policies, see chapter 2.1.9. Based on the principle of subsidiarity and the concept of shared responsibility, the 1998 EU Forestry Strategy established a framework for forest-related actions in support of SFM, based on cooperative and beneficial linkages between the forest policies of the Member States and Community policies and initiatives relevant to forests. The Forest Action Plan covering the period 2007-2011 was the main instrument for its implementation addressing four objectives referring to competitiveness, environment, quality of life and coordination and communication, see also chapter 1.1. Forestry Measures under the Rural Development Regulation have been the main financial driver for the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy at the EU level. Other relevant measures include the Timber Regulation and FLEGT and the Renewable Energy Directive. The EU has also undertaken relevant international commitments. The Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All types of Forests under UNFF aims to strengthen political support and action to SFM but there are also several conventions in related areas relevant for forests. These include CBD and its Nagoya Protocol, FAO Commission of genetic resources for food and agriculture (CGRFA) including forest genetic resources, UNFCCC, UNCCD or CITES, OECD scheme for the certification of forest reproductive material. Special attention is being given to the on-going negotiations for establishing a Legally Binding Agreement for forests in the pan-European area, in which the EU is participating. [...] Forest Protection. European forests are threatened by biotic and abiotic agents, such as insects and other pests, diseases, grazing and invasive alien species, windstorms, forest fires, droughts, floods and avalanches. Both the nature and the effects of certain threats are trans-boundary and therefore actions at EU level increase the added value of the measures. The disturbances caused by these agents do have significant socioeconomic and environmental impacts and climate change effects will further exacerbate them, particularly through the increased frequency of extrem e events (storms, drought, floods and temperature extremes). Relevant policy instruments already provide support for prevention and restoration, such as for example, the EU Rural Development and regional policy measures, the EU legislation on Plant Health and Plant Reproductive Material, the Solidarity Fund, other Civil Protection Mechanisms. The use in forestry of high-quality reproductive material suited to the site in question is essential if the stability, disease-resistance, adaptation, productivity, diversity and overall resilience of forests are to be increased. [...] The fight against illegal logging. Illegal logging is the harvesting of timber in contravention of the laws and regulations of the country of harvest. Illegal logging is a global problem with significant negative economic, environmental and social impact. In economic terms illegal logging results in lost revenues and other foregone benefits. In environmental terms illegal logging is associated with deforestation, climate change and a loss of biodiversity. In social terms illegal logging can be linked to conflicts over land and resources, the disempowerment of local and indigenous communities, corruption and armed conflicts. Illegal activities also undermine the efforts of responsible operators by making available cheaper but illegal timber and timber products in the market place. The European Union's policy to fight illegal logging and associated trade was defined back in 2003 with the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. The key regions and countries targeted in the FLEGT Action Plan, which together contain nearly 60\,\% of the world' s forest and supply a large proportion of internationally traded timber, are Central Africa, Russia, Tropical South America and Southeast Asia. The FLEGT Action Plan covers both supply and demand side measures to address illegal logging, and was endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers in November 2003. [...] Ecosystem services and biodiversity. Ecosystem services can be defined as the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. Thus, they are important for the environment as well as for social and economic reasons. Looking at the environmental side, forests are an important component of European nature. They are home to the largest number of species on the continent. The distinctive nature of European forest ecosystems is characterised by the fact that numerous species of trees, other plants or animals are restricted to Europe. 23\,\% of the total forest resource within Europe is in Natura 2000 and forests and other wooded land represent around 50\,\% of the total terrestrial Natura 2000 network. The Natura 2000 network of protected area s is the core instrument for achieving the 2020 targets of the EU biodiversity strategy, including a significant improvement of the conservation status of habitat types and species of Community interest and where possible the restoration of a favourable conservation status. Natura 2000 sites are not strict nature reserves. They are sites where human activities such as sustainable forest management are perfectly possible, but subject to the condition that they are compatible with the conservation objectives of the respective sites. This means that in most cases normal sustainable forest manage ment is possible without any restriction. In other cases, forest management may need to be adapted in order to avoid deterioration of protected habitats or disturbance of species. This strategy should therefore aim at further promoting the active role of forestry as an example, especially in Natura 2000 sites, of how environmental objectives and in particular nature conservation objectives can be pro-actively combined in a context of sustainable forest management. Forests play an important role in soil protection as the leaf litter and root structures enhance soil stability again erosion or landslide: This function can be particularly relevant during extreme rainfall events. Forests also provide multiple benefits for biodiversity and people. While some ecosystem functions, goods and services have a monetary value (e.g. wood), there are other ecosystem services which have to be 'valued' in other ways (e.g. recreation, cultural heritage, water and soil quality and quantity). By better valuing, maintaining and enhancing ecosystem goods and services, the EU will provide an effective mechanism for balancing different uses while in the same time also contributing to enhance forest biodiversity. [...] Water Policy. Forests have a key role in protecting drinking-water supplies. Forests shade snowpack, controlling the rate at which it melts, which water keeps flowing to streams, lakes and aquifers year-round. The trees also work to clean the water, filtering out pollutants and regulating the water's temperature to keep the aquatic ecosystem in balance. This is why appropriate forest management is crucial to two important aspects of water supply: provision of high-quality water to humans and water supply to the forest itself. This fits into the aim of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) on long-term sustainable water management based on a high level of protection of the aquatic environment. Article 4.1 defines the WFD general objective to be achieved in all surface and groundwater bodies, i.e. good status by 2015, and introduces the principle of preventing any further deterioration of status. [...] Climate change. Forests could make a significant contribution to achieving climate change mitigation objectives by absorbing carbon dioxide a nd storing carbon in trees and timber products. The EU land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors remove approximately 9\,\% of greenhouse gases emitted in other parts of the economy and it provides bio-materials that can act as temporary carbon stores (harvested wood products, HWP) or as ” carbon substitutes”, replacing carbon intensive materials and 57 fuels. The Commission has adopted a decision on accounting rules for activities related to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) At the same time, forests are vulnerable to climate change impacts. Droughts, fires, storms, heat waves, and biotic agents will increasingly affect their composition and their functions, including the provision of renewable biomass and the ability to store/sequester carbon. It is therefore of great importance to maintain and enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of EU forests, including through fire prevention and other adaptive solutions (e.g. using reproductive material suitable to future climatic conditions). Some instruments are available under environment, rural development and research policies to promote and enhance the protection, management and use of forest resources, contributing to adaptation efforts such as: - The EUFGIS project funded by the second Community Programme on the characterisation, conservation, evaluation and utilisation of genetic resources has improved the documentation and management of dynamic conservation units of forest trees and created an online information system for forest genetic resources inventories in Europe towards sustainable forest management. - The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) supports the services in charge of the protection of forests against fires in the EU countries and provides with updated and reliable information on forest fires in Europe (see further in chapter 2.3.6). The EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, cross-sectoral by nature, also provides a short review of the expected impacts of climate change on EU forests. Still, the exact effects of climate change on forests are complex and not yet clearly understood, calling for additional efforts both on information sharing, on knowledge generation and on dissemination to policy makers and forest users across Europe. [...] Promoting competitive and sustainable supply of wood for the EU bioeconomy. The forest sector has all the attributes to take a major role in the European green economy, through exemplary sustainable management, including the development and application of ecosystem services principles, renewable energy use linked to an innovative forest industry developing intelligent bio-based products, more efficient and environmentally sound processing technologies. The natural, renewable and recyclable characteristic of wood makes its sustainable use environment and climate-friendly, positive for the society and for the low carbon economy, provided that limits to what forests can sustainably supply are respected, that the use of wood effectively contributes to climate change mitigation and that products are only sourced from sustainable forest management. Moreover non wood forest products are gaining higher interests in the markets. Forest biomass as a source of bioenergy provides to rural communities an opportunity to create sustainable new jobs and to diversify income. The Biomass Action Plan overviewed and set out measures to increase the development of biomass energy from wood, wastes and agricultural crops. The proportion of wood based energy currently is about 5 \% of total EU energy supply. According to National Renewable Energy Action Plans it is expected that biomass will represent more than 10 \% of the EU gross final energy consumption by 2020. In this context forestry biomass is set to play a significant role. Some Member States have already started an essential change of energy systems. More mobilisation of potential woody biomass resources for energy purposes will be required as demand grows, but it is extremely important that the biomass for energy purposes comes from forests that are sustainably managed. Renewable energy from forest sources is in itself an important contribution to the wider 'green economy'. [...]},
  issue = {SWD/2013/0342 final},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-12641572,adaptation,climate-change,ecosystem-services,europe,european-commission,european-union,featured-publication,forest-fires,forest-pests,forest-resources,fragmentation,integrated-natural-resources-modelling-and-management,landslides,soil-erosion,soil-resources,sustainability}
}

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