Study on progress in implementing the EU Forest Strategy - Final Report


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The aim of this study is to help build a knowledge base for the review of the EU Forest Strategy that was adopted by the European Commission in 2013. The EU Forest Strategy addresses 8 priority areas that were identified as being particularly relevant for forests and the forest-based sector until 2020. These priority areas address: (i) support of rural and urban communities, (ii) competiveness and sustainability of the forest-based sector and bio economy, (iii) forests and climate change, (iv) protection offorests and provision of ecosystem services, (v) information on forests and how they are changing, (vi) innovation and value-added products in forestry, (vii) coordination and cooperation in forest issues, and (viii) the global dimension of forests.

The analysis shows that the EU Forest Strategy plays a central role as key reference document addressing forest-related priorities as well as fruitfully stipulating information exchange and coordination. It does so mainly within sectoral boundaries. As regards rural development, the Common Agricultural Policy funds for forestry measures are a key instrument for supporting sustainable forest management and the objectives of the EU Forest Strategy. These rural development funds cover a wide range of forestry measures, where implementation is subject to national priorities and the uptake of funds varies. The area of fostering competitiveness of the sector is amply addressed in the EU Forest Strategy. An increased coordination of the forest-resource sector and the forest-based industries is promoted to gain a competitive advantage in a bio-based economy. Climate change is high on the political agenda. The focus on mitigation is currently considerably larger than the one on forest adaptation and resilience to ecosystemchanges due to changing climatic conditions. Conservation and protection of forest ecosystems is a broad topic with a variety of activities. Implementation of ecosystem service schemes are still in their infancy. Recently, the Natura 2000 implementation has undergone a fitness check. Forest management plans incorporating biodiversity aspects appear as key instruments, but are implemented in varying forms. Renewed political commitment to enhance coherence with socio-economic objectives, funding and stakeholder engagement will be important to mediate between multiple forest-related goals and objectives. The implementation of a harmonised EU forest information system is lagging behind. A new bottom-up process with member states is being established, which is seen as instrumental for future forest data provision. Actions on the innovation potential and related research activities can be judged as significant. Yet, it will require clear strategies for capitalising and disseminating their outcomes, as well as further activities for knowledge exchange and coordination. Finally, activities on the global dimension of forests are progressing significantly, including Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), and the EU Timber Regulation. More actions to safeguard coordination of EU and Member States’ activities hold promise.

 

This publication is coauthored by the Forest Policy Research Network team.