Metsähallitus’ cultural heritage survey receives a Special Mention from Europa Nostra

The project that carried out a field survey of cultural heritage sites in multiple-use forests owned by the state in 2010-2015 was awarded a Special Mention by the Europa Nostra jury. Special Mentions are given to outstanding contributions to the conservation and enhancement of Europe’s cultural heritage. This recognition was presented to Metsähallitus at the European Heritage Congress, a major cultural heritage event, in Turku on 15 May.

Metsähallitus’ survey of cultural heritage sites in state-owned forests received the Special Mention in the Research category. In its justifications, the Europa Nostra jury noted that this exceptionally large-scale and comprehensive survey both engaged various stakeholders and groups and helped to bridge culture and nature in Finland.

– We are really happy about this award. The project was exceptional by both Finnish and European standards, not only because of its size but also because the time frame of the survey extended almost up to modern times, says Hanna Kelola-Mäkeläinen, who served as a cultural heritage specialist in the project.

The cultural heritage survey documented and protected over 10,000 cultural heritage sites in state-owned multiple-use forests, including over 100,000 individual structures. The survey covered a time period of almost 10,000 years – from traces left by Finland’s earliest settlers to farmsteads that were deserted as a result of urbanisation in the 1950s and 60s.

– The cultural heritage of multiple-use forests is now very well known. The survey also secured the preservation of younger cultural heritage mainly dating back to the 1900s in state-owned forests, explains Sustainable Development Manager Antti Otsamo from Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd.

The survey collected a wealth of open data that enables the use of cultural heritage sites both for tourism development and teaching and research. The survey reports are publicly accessible on Metsähallitus’ website, and the images have been saved to the Kantapuu.fi service of the Finnish Forest Museum Lusto. A free eBook was also produced on the survey, which provides more detailed information on the project outcomes and contains suggestions for excursions in the multiple-use forests.

In total, the project inventoried almost four million hectares of forests in commercial use, poorly productive forest lands and waste lands. The total costs of the survey amounted to some EUR four million, and the funding was provided by Metsähallitus’ forestry unit (today Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd).

Europa Nostra, an organisation established in 1963 to foster European cultural heritage, operates in over 50 countries. The organisation has presented the joint cultural heritage awards of the European Union and Europa Nostra since 2002. This year, the jury gave a Special Mention to 13 projects from 11 European Member States. While Metsähallitus’ cultural heritage survey project was the only Finnish candidate to receive a Special Mention, a Europa Nostra award was presented to the Paavo Nurmi Legacy project.

Further information:

Cultural Heritage in Multiple-use Forests: http://www.metsa.fi/web/en/cultural-heritage-in-multiple-use-forests

Europa Nostra Special Mention 2017: https://www.europanostra.org/2017-eu-prize-cultural-heritage-europa-nostra-awards-special-mentions/

Communications Officer Hanna Kelola-Mäkeläinen, tel. +358 40 180 4592, hanna.kelola-makelainen@metsa.fi

Sustainable Development Manager Antti Otsamo, Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd., tel. +358 40 719 7734, antti.otsamo@metsa.fi

EUSTAFOR finds the new EASAC report on SFM too restricted

The new European Academies´ Report “Multifunctionality and sustainability in European Union’s forests” gives an overview of European forestry which is too limited. This was the overall message given by EUSTAFOR and other forest-sector representatives at a panel on 11 May 2017 in Brussels.

The report “Multi-functionality and Sustainability in the European Union´s Forests” was launched on that day at an event organized by the European Academies Science Advisory Council in Brussels.

European forests have multiple functions. This multi-functionality creates conflicts between different uses and stakeholders, and presents policymakers with considerable challenges to avoid conflicts and to enhance sustainability and synergies between different policy domains.

Although forest management remains a competence of Member States, more and more EU policies recognize the interplay of different aspects and policy objectives under the common concept called “forests.” Around 10 Directorates-General in the European Commission have developed policies that concern forests. Nowadays, creating EU policies which ensure a synergic and systematic approach to forests while at the same time addressing a vast range of themes including climate change, bioenergy, bioeconomy, biodiversity and rural development, is more challenging than ever.

The “EU has very little power over national forest policies. This also creates room for conflicts,” said Professor Jaana Bäck from the University of Helsinki, who chaired the working group behind the report. “We should build up a system, which goes beyond member state boundaries in forest issues.”

Two issues, namely biodiversity and climate change, were emphasized in the report’s analyses concerning the needs for future forest-related policies. The outcome was seen to be not fully satisfactory by the stakeholders present at the meeting. Specifically, the report considers growing demand for bioenergy from forests as an example of a threat to biodiversity as well as undermining climate change mitigation efforts.

Moreover, the report clearly questions the carbon neutrality of forest biomass and underlines the importance of increasing carbon storage in European forests. According to the report, “a more balanced and economically efficient policy is needed” and instead of using biomass for bioenergy, carbon storage should be incentivized and subsidized. At the same time, emissions from forest bioenergy should be accounted for and controlled through appropriate means.According to EUSTAFOR, CEPF, EFI and CEPI, the report is guided by approaches which are too narrow. The report is limited to a few selected aspects of forestry and forest policy. It neglects the big picture and the long time frame that is intrinsic to forestry. As a result, there is a high risk of missing out on opportunities which forestry can offer to European citizens in order to address biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The importance of balancing all three pillars of sustainable forest management (SFM) was noted by Piotr Borkowski, Executive Director of EUSTAFOR. Multifunctional and sustainable forestry requires sufficient financing and the sale of wood is the main source of income in order to maintain the multiple benefits and functions of forests. The use of biomass for energy is significantly lower compared to other end uses. Some biomass is currently only suitable for use as bioenergy and the benefits of using it for this purpose should be taken into consideration. Therefore, it is important to avoid imposing administrative restrictions, such as “cascading use,” on the market because they could negatively impact the economic pillar of SFM.

EASAC (The European Academies´ Science Advisory Council) is the body consisting of national science academies. More information is available at http://www.easac.eu/home/reports-and-statements/detail-view/article/multi-fun.html

Sustainability of biomass currently a topic in the context of EU bioenergy policy post-2020

The EU bioenergy policy post-2020 is currently one of the EU’s priority issues. The European Parliament and the Council are working intensively on their positions as regards the Commission proposal on last November’s Clean Energy package. EUSTAFOR, in coordination with other organizations, is advocating and promoting its joint position paper with policy and decision makers in Brussels. Numerous initiatives and events have been undertaken by various institutions and stakeholders in Brussels in connection with this topic. Below is a short overview of recent key events:

  • On 29 March 2017 – “Does the Clean Energy Package come clean on bioenergy?” – Hosted by MEPs Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA) and Jo Leinen (S&D) (more information)
  • On 11 May 2017 – “Moving Towards a fossil free EU society” – Hosted by MEP Jytte Guteland (S&D) (more information)
  • On 11 May 2017 – “Visions of Bioenergy” – Organized by AEBIOM (more information, presentations)

EUSTAFOR continues to duly inform its members about these events either through its website or Twitter. Keep up-to-date by consulting them daily.

EUSTAFOR General Assembly – Follow-up

The European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) held its General Assembly in Brussels on 21 March 2017, establishing the orientation for EUSTAFOR’s activities for the year to come and confirming Per-Olof Wedin, CEO of the Sveaskog, for a new term as EUSTAFOR’s President (press release).

The 11th Ordinary General Assembly saw the biggest ever participation of EUSTAFOR delegates from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Croatia, Italy and the United Kingdom. There were 23 voting members (out of 25) either present or represented and 4 associated members (out of 8) present.

The assembly welcomed three new members to EUSTAFOR as from 1 January 2017: Slovenski državni gozdovi (SiDG – Slovenian State Forests), Staatsbetrieb Sachsenforst (State Forests of Saxony) and the Northern Ireland Forest Service. All four countries of the United Kingdom are now members of EUSTAFOR.

The General Assembly endorsed the 2016 financial reports and implementation results of the Work Plan 2016, emphasizing the growing relevance of EUSTAFOR in Brussels and the accomplishments of its advocacy. In addition, there were short presentations by the WG Chairs from each of EUSTAFOR’s internal groups:

  • WG Bioeconomy
  • WG Climate Change
  • WG Strategic and Organizational Challenges, Risk Management and Needs of SFMOs
  • Communicators Network

The 2017 Work Plan activities were combined together with the work accomplished in 2016. The EUSTAFOR Strategy 2016 provided a framework for setting up the Work Plan in 2017, and each of the 6 strategic policy areas were reviewed and topics were identified.

2017 was also an election year. The General Assembly reappointed Per-Olof Wedin (Sweden) as President and Reinhardt Neft (Bavaria, Germany) as Vice-President, both for a term of 2 years. Patrick Falcone (France), Rudolf Freidhager (Austria), Pentti Hyttynen (Finland), Gerard Murphy (Ireland), Ciprian Pahonţu (Romania), Josef Svoboda (Czech Republic) and Konrad Tomaszewski (Poland) were appointed Members of the Executive Committee, also for a period of 2 years.

Ciprian Pahonţu presented the plans for the State Forest Conference 2017 to take place in Poina Braşov, Romania, on 13-14 June 2017 under the title “European Forests – Bridges to a Green Future”

The seminar, “Forest Fires, a Growing Risk Due to Climate Change” to take place in Aix-en-Provence, France, on 26-27 April 2017, was presented by Patrick Falcone from the Office National des Forêts, who hosted the seminar.

Following the meeting, Tomas Lundmark, Professor of Silviculture at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, gave a presentation on “The future of the EU climate post-2020 as regards forests”

Following a networking lunch with the board of the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry, hosted by EUSTAFOR, the members attended the International Forum “The Value of Wood” where a keynote speech was given by EUSTAFOR’s President, Per-Olof Wedin.

The minutes, annexes and presentations are available at this link.

Mapping & Assessing Ecosystem Services (MAES)

The Commission’s Working Group on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) took place on 16 March 2017 in Brussels with an aim to discuss progress on the assessment of the condition of ecosystems, including an analytical framework for mapping and assessing ecosystem conditions for 2017, the latest developments relevant to natural capital accounting and the exchange of views on activities undertaken by the Member States.

A draft analytical framework for mapping and assessing ecosystem condition was presented by the Commission. The framework follows a consistent step-wise approach which will be further elaborated by EU pilots on nature, agro, forest, and urban ecosystems involving Commission experts from ENVI, JRC (Joint Research Centre), and EEA (European Environment Agency). The forest pilot is coordinated by JRC. The first outcomes, based on a selection of quantified indicators, will be shared with MS and stakeholders in a workshop on Ecosystem Condition on 27-28 June 2017 in Brussels.

During the discussions, some Member States informed the Commission of ongoing developments on ecosystem condition assessment, showing the strong dependence between services and conditions. These could be presented at the June workshop. The example of the Water Framework Directive, providing strong evidence of the synergies between good ecological status and the provision of bundles of regulating and cultural services, will be followed.

The Commission provided a short oral update on latest developments on natural capital accounting. KIP-INCA (Eurostat, EEA, JRC, ENVI, RTD) phase I report ([1]) was published at the end of last year and the work continues on the ecosystem condition accounts with a focus on accounts for 3 services (pollination, recreation, water purification). The pilot accounts will be presented at an expert workshop in October 2017.

MAES is a program undertaken by the European Commission (DG ENVI) to help inform the policy decisions affecting the environment. It contributes to achieving the targets (Target 2) of the EU Biodiversity Strategy that aims at halting the loss of biodiversity in the EU.

Relevant documents and further information about the meeting is available under this link.

[1] Knowledge Innovation Project on Accounting for Natural Capital and ecosystem services in the EU

EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy

Based on the findings of the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the European Commission has adopted the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy to improve their implementation and boost their contribution towards reaching the EU’s biodiversity targets for 2020. The Action Plan focuses on four priority areas and comprises 15 actions to be carried out until 2019:

  1. Improving guidance and knowledge and ensuring better coherence with broader socio-economic objectives
  2. Building political ownership and strengthening compliance
  3. Strengthening investment in Natura 2000 and improving synergies with EU funding instruments
  4. Better communication and outreach, engaging citizens, stakeholders and communities

The Plan is complemented by detailed factsheets providing more information on each of the 15 actions. Measures will be taken at EU level, but Member States and relevant stakeholders will also need to act, with increased support and assistance from the European Commission.

The Fitness Check has found that the Nature Directives are fit for purpose but that achieving their objectives will depend upon substantially improving their implementation ([1]). Improvements are needed in working in partnership with different stakeholder communities in the Member States across the EU to deliver practical results on the ground. The Fitness Check has also shown that, where targeted action takes place on a sufficient scale, the status of species and habitats improves, sometimes leading to remarkable recoveries. Moreover, there is increasing recognition that our natural environment underpins various sectors of our economy such as tourism. Conserving and using it sustainably offers ample opportunities to attract and encourage investment in nature protection.

On 8 July 2016, EUSTAFOR published a Position Paper on the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives and their implementation in State Forests. An improvement in the implementation was strongly recommended by ensuring a proper role for forest owners and managers, among others, in designing the implementation strategies and conservation measures included in Natura 2000 management plans. Furthermore, EUSTAFOR and its members also advocated a sound EU financing instrument, which enables compensation for the extra costs connected to the implementation of Natura 2000 measures and/or the income foregone due to restrictions on forest management.

 

The EU Action Plan was presented by the European Commission at the meeting of the Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directives (NADEG), held on 3-4 May 2017 in Brussels. EUSTAFOR is a member of this group and follows its work. The presentation and all relevant documents are available under this link.

The broad presentation of the Action Plan will take place at a conference on the 6 June 2017 in Brussels.

Versions in other languages are available under this link.

[1] Commission Staff Working Document (2016) 472 final of 16 December 2016 Fitness Check of the EU Nature Legislation (Birds and Habitats Directives) .

 

EUSTAFOR views presented at opening of National Conference “Forests and Landscape” organized by EUSTAFOR’s members ANARF and FORESTAS

The National Conference “Forests and Landscape” was held in Sardinia on 20-22 April 2017. EUSTAFOR’s intervention highlighted that, despite the importance of of organizations on a local scale, the national level is the key factor for the future of forestry management. At the same time, it is essential to emphasize the need for effective coordination between the national policy level and its interactions with pan-European and international levels.

The exchange of field experiences and knowledge of what is happening in the diverse forestry systems throughout Europe is, for EUSTAFOR, fundamental information that allows our association to bring the voice of the forestry sector to the European level, raising awareness of the individual political processes so that these can benefit sustainable forest management from a pan-European perspective.

Furthermore, understanding synergies between landscape conservation and active forest management, and how these two elements reinforce each other, is a fundamental condition for the development of the sector not only in Italy but also in many other Mediterranean and European countries, despite the diversity in terms of typology, management and forestry industry.

In a changing socio-economic and demographic context, developing strategies in the forestry sector at national and European levels requires coordinating institutional initiatives that will ensure the maintenance of both the functional and aesthetic values of the woodland heritage. Furthermore, a stronger commitment to simplification and harmonization during this phase of reorganizing EU legislation relevant to the forestry and landscape sectors is needed.

The “Forests and Landscape” conference was meant to provide a moment for analysis and debate between institutions with different technical and cultural backgrounds on this particular aspect of the forestry sector. Salvatore Martire, from the Executive Office, provided an overview of forest-related activities, current policy issues on the EU agenda, and EUSTAFOR’s past participation in the FP7 INTEGRAL project , which was very relevant for the conference’s main topic.

Evaluation of the instruments applicable to State aid in agriculture and forestry – a roadmap open for consultation

The European Commission – Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development – is carrying out the evaluation of the instruments applicable to State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas as a part of the process of evaluations or ‘fitness checks’ of multiple of existing EU laws.

In June 2014, the European Commission adopted revised and updated criteria under which Member States can support agriculture, forestry and rural areas, in line with EU state aid rules. This updated framework, part of the Commission’s State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative, is aimed at fostering growth and competitiveness in the EU and ensuring coherence with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in particular with the rural development policy of the EU. The framework consists of a new Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation (ABER), new Guidelines for State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas 2014 to 2020 (GL) and a new Regulation on De Minimis Aid.

ABER allows granting certain categories of State aid to the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas without prior notification to the Commission. The GL aim at setting the general criteria which will be used by the Commission when assessing the compliance of aid with the internal market. The De Minimis Regulation allows Member States to grant small amounts of aid without prior notification.

The framework of State aid rules for the agricultural and forestry sectors and for rural areas ensures that the Commission’s assessment of the compatibility of various forms of aid is transparent, consistent and coherent, so as to contribute to a higher degree of legal certainty for Member States and aid beneficiaries. In addition, the block exemption regulation allows for simplified procedures, as it exempts certain categories of aid from notification requirements.

The key objectives of the 2014 to 2020 framework of State aid rules for the agricultural and forestry sectors and for rural areas are to:

  • Ensure consistency of agricultural State aids with both CAP and Rural Development objectives;
  • Simplify and increase the efficiency of the procedures;
  • As part of the general SAM initiative, guarantee that State aid does not distort, or threaten to distort, competition in the internal market.

The current framework for State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas has been in force since July 2014 and expires on 31 December 2020. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the implementation of this framework, in particular with regard to the impact on the internal market. The results from the evaluation will be used to review the State aid rules. The review is to be carried out in 2020 with a view to establishing a new State aid framework for the agricultural and forestry sectors and for rural areas for the period 2021 to 2028.

A Roadmap for this evaluation is available under this link. The deadline for providing feedback is 18 May 2017.

 

ONF Seminar “Forest Fires, a growing risk due to Climate Change” – Follow-up

The EUSTAFOR seminar on “Forest Fires, a growing risk due to Climate Change” organised by ONF was held on 26-27 April 2017 in France. The workshop has registered a relevant participation by EUSTAFOR members and other partners and stakeholders.

The first half-day of the workshop consisted in a field trip (area of Manosque) for a presentation of ONF activities related to forest fires about staff specialized on protecting forests against fires, surveillance patrol, and field equipment.

The second half-day consisted in an intense seminar about the evolution on the increasing areas of fire risk due to the effects of climate change with a number of interesting presentations by Yan BOULANGER (Canadian Forest Service), Jesus SAN MIGUEL (Joint Research Centre – European Commission, Italy), Michel VENNETIER(IRSTEA, France) and Thomas CURT (INRA, France), and the showcase from EUSTAFOR members:

  • Italy – ANARF – Agenzia Forestas & National Research Council, Sassari University & Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (Sara MALTONI, Antonio CASULA, Vittorio MOLE, Cristina PILO, Michele SALIS)
  • Poland –  State Forest of Poland & Forest Research Institute of Poland (Jan KACZMAROWSKIBartłomiej KOLAKOWSKI)
  • Sweden – SVEASKOG (Olof JOHANSSON)
  • France – ONF (Yvon DUCHE)

The third half-day consisted in a second field visit (area Bouches-du-Rhône) about the effect of the fire in Rognac during summer 2016, the way to manage fire in the interface forest-habitation, the Emergency measures after fire to prevent related risks, and the rehabilitation areas after fire.

Materials and pictures are available at this link (intranet).

Forest certification continues to be on the policy agenda

Forest certification still receives considerable attention by different actors of the forest-based sector. The Informative Day on Forestry Certification was organized by the woodworking industries (CEI-Bois and EOS) on 3 May 2017, in Brussels. EUSTAFOR’s Executive Director was invited to the event to represent European state forests.

The meeting aimed at discussing recent developments of the main certification systems applied in forestry and downstream value chain: PEFC, FSC and the ISO/PC 287 chain of custody. Anand Punja, Director at FSC European Regional in London, Xavier Noyon, Representative of the PEFC EU Office in Brussels and Marcus Kirschner, MBM Verbände der Deutschen Holz-, Möbel- und Fertigbauindustrie (ISO/PC 287 CoC) presented their schemes and participated in discussions with industry representatives (presentation PEFC, presentation FSC, presentation HDH).

Mr. Punja gave a general overview of the FSC system, a controlled wood scheme and the new chain of custody scheme introduced into force in April 2017. Mr. Noyon gave an update on the ongoing consultation of the PEFC Standard “PEFC ST 1001:201X,” whereas Mr. Kirschner explained the structure of the ISO/PC 287 Chain of custody of wood and wood-based products and the standard development process of ISO/DIS 38200:2017 Chain of custody of wood and wood-based products.

In subsequent discussions, it was noticed that most of the increases in certified forest cover have been in European and other Western countries, which already have legal frameworks in place to ensure proper management of their resources. Forest industries consider that both main certification schemes (FSC, PEFC) contributed positively to the development of the timber sector in the past. However, they now need a major overhaul to catch up with developments in the wood trade and the market. The operating costs of forest certification – particularly for merchants – have been assessed to be far too high. The industry demanded FSC and PEFC move towards a dual system that recognizes “certified wood” regardless of which certification scheme has been used. The industries’ view is that the two main certification systems have focused too much on increasing revenue from the downstream auditing of the chain of custody, without any noticeable effect on increasing certified forest cover. They therefore suggested focusing on increasing certified forest area and simplifying the auditing system to reduce costs, thereby increasing the demand for sustainable timber. This is an important message for forest owners and managers since the woodworking industries apparently see that the main issues to be solved by forest certification are related to the quality of forest resource management but not to the timber processing in the downstream value chain.

A few days prior to the Brussels-based meeting, the state forest management organizations from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia and Poland were invited by Lasy Panstwowe to Nagórzyce, Poland, where they held informal consultations to review the current situation concerning forest certification in Central Europe from an SFMO perspective and to examine how to foster information exchange among EUSTAFOR members concerning forest certification processes in their respective countries and in the EU context. The Executive Director was invited to present EUSTAFOR’s activities as regards forest certification (presentation).

Metsähallitus publishes its Annual Report and Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Metsähallitus has published its Annual Report for 2016. As part of the report, Metsähallitus is issuing a Corporate Social Responsibility Report that provides an extensive review of our operations and their social effects from the viewpoint of ecological, cultural, social and financial responsibility.

The year 2016 was lively and eventful for Metsähallitus. Metsähallitus performed well, despite major changes.

Forestry produces timber efficiently and responsibly on state-owned land for more than a hundred delivery locations. In multiple-use forests in forestry use, EUR 56 million was invested in securing the preconditions of biodiversity, recreational use and reindeer husbandry. For example, state-owned forests contain more decaying wood, which is important to biodiversity, than privately owned forests.

Metsähallitus takes the preconditions of the Sámi culture strongly into account. The Voluntary Akwé: Kon guidelines are applied in order to safeguard the participation of Sámi parties in various projects and plans. The Akwé: Kon process was used in 2016, in forestry planning alongside the Muddusjärvi reindeer herding co-operative.

Metsähallitus has also used a range of measures to promote ecological and cultural diversity. More and more people are interested in well-maintained protected areas as hiking destinations. The economic benefits of national parks increased. Management measures have helped endangered species; for example, successful protection measures have increased the population of the world’s most endangered seal, the Saimaa ringed seal.

The report is available online at annualreport2016.metsa.fi . It is published on a web platform, enabling each reader to compile an annual report of personally interesting themes. The Key Figures section of the report contains key figures describing Metsähallitus’ activities.

For further information, please contact:

Metsähallitus, Tuulikki Halla, Communication Manager, tuulikki.halla(at)metsa.fi