Forestry Debates Kick Off in the New European Parliament

More than 60 participants attended a ‘Forest Breakfast’ at the European Parliament to discuss European forestry’s contribution to today and tomorrow’s forest-based industries in the EU.

Under the auspices of the Members of the European Parliament, Ms. Elisabeth Köstinger (AT), Chair of the Sustainable Forest Management Working Group of the EP Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development,” and Mr. Herbert Dorfmann (IT), the Brussels-based organisations EUSTAFOR, CEPF, Copa-Cogeca and EFI, representing private and public forest holders and forest research, hosted a ‘Forest Breakfast’ at the European Parliament on 24 September 2014. During the event various Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and other European institutions and organisations contributed to an open discussion on how European forestry contributes to today and tomorrow’s forest- based industry in the EU.

In her welcome address, MEP Elisabeth Köstinger highlighted the economic and political relevance of the forest sector. The MEP stressed that the principle of subsidiarity and a regional approach need to be considered in every EU policy approach. Magnus Berg from SÖDRA, one of Sweden’s largest forestry cooperatives, provided some stimulating insights on how to turn theory into action by referring to an example of an integrated forestry value chain. Prior to the exchanges with the audience, the hosting organisations seized the opportunity to share some of their key considerations. In his statement, Hubert de Schorlemer, CEPF President, highlighted the need for the EU to pay particular attention to policies, which promote forestry and the forest-based sector as a key contributor to both rural development and an EU-wide and strong future-oriented economy. Juha Hakkarainen, Vice-Chairman of the Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Forestry, added that only a sustainable and competitive EU forest sector that attracts investments and innovation will be able to create growth and jobs and to overcome challenges such as climate change or the increased demand for renewable energy and commodities. A strong commitment and political support from all parties involved is needed in order to meet these challenges and the expectations of society. EUSTAFOR’s Vice-President, Per-Olof Wedin, positively recognised the new EU Forest Strategy and its principles as a guiding document for the EU forestry sector in coming years towards further implementation and enhancement of sustainable forest management (SFM) and multi-purpose forestry in EU forests. Research and innovation will be crucial for a successful development of the sector, and for this it will need support from all relevant EU policies, as pointed out by Harald Mauser from the European Forest Institute. During the open discussion the participants – representing the European Commission and other EU institutions, NGOs, forest holders, industry and research – made various contributions. Some of the experts highlighted that it is crucial to ensure sustainable use of resources, to respect the needs of society and the environment as well as to enhance the economic viability of the forest sector. Promoting forest research and innovation to adapt to new challenges, recognising the importance of certification schemes for sustainable forest management and the need to develop new markets for ecosystem services were also addressed in the debate.

MEP Herbert Dorfmann underlined the multi-functionality of forests, the complexity of ownership patterns and rights as well as the acknowledgment thereof in his closing remarks.

The ‘Forest Breakfast’ event once more highlighted the need for a coherent and stable policy framework for facilitating a sustainable forest sector that strongly contributes to the EU bioeconomy and to the protection of Europe’s natural and cultural heritage.

In cooperation with the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development”