Feasibility of implementation of the sustainability criteria for forest bioenergy questioned

Europe’s forest owners and managers recognize the efforts made in the agreement struck during the trilogue talks on the updated EU Renewable Energy Directive (REDII). But to ensure that forests and the forest-based sector continue to contribute positively to the EU’s post-2020 climate and energy targets, care must be taken to ensure that implementation of REDII does not create counterproductive results.

The recast of the Renewable Energy Directive is the first EU Directive which deals with sustainability requirements for forest management. Even though it applies only to bioenergy, the impact of the Directive is much wider as forests are not solely used for bioenergy purposes.

Forest owners and managers welcome the fact that the Directive takes account of existing legislation on forests and forest management in the EU and in Member States. In fact, sustainable forest management has been defined and agreed on by the EU within the framework of the Forest Europe process and its principles have been incorporated into Member States’ forest and nature legislation.

The undersigned organisations regret, however, that the agreement struck during the trilogue negotiations uses imprecise wording for sustainability requirements, which may have a negative impact on the future implementation of this Directive due to the complex and heavy verification process.

“We assess positively the decision to apply a risk-based approach for the verification of forest biomass sustainability. It is nevertheless of crucial importance that the proposed system is based on clear and precise requirements. It must be feasible at operational level and should not negatively impact the development of the bioeconomy, in which bioenergy plays an important role, especially in rural areas”, stated Piotr Borkowski, Executive Director of EUSTAFOR.

“Carelessly defined sustainability requirements and their imprecisely determined scope – such as the inclusion of unverifiable parameters like soil quality – will impose unnecessary administrative and legislative burdens and will undermine the feasibility of the entire risk assessment system. We sincerely hope that this will not hinder wood mobilization from Europe’s forests”, said Meri Siljama, Interim Secretary General of CEPF.

On a positive note, we believe that by keeping feedstocks such as tall oil and pulpwood in the raw materials list, the EU has recognized the important contribution of forest-based advanced biofuels as one of the solutions to ensure a more climate-friendly transport sector.

“We hope that the implementation of the updated Directive will ensure stability for current and planned investments and simplification both at EU and national level.  However, we are disappointed about the possibility that Member States may include additional sustainability requirements for forest bioenergy’’, highlighted Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General of Copa and Cogeca.

As a next step, forest owners and managers believe that it is crucial that care is taken when developing the guidance rules for demonstrating compliance with the sustainability requirements applied in the risk-based approach, to ensure that the subsidiarity principle and distribution of competences between the EU and its Member States are respected.

For further information, please contact:
Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF)
Meri Siljama, CEPF Interim Secretary General, Tel.: +32 2 2392 307

European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR)
Salvatore Martire, EUSTAFOR Policy Advisor, Tel.: +32 (0)2 239 23 06

European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperative (Copa and Cogeca)
Oana Neagu, Copa and Cogeca Director, Tel.: +32 2 287 27 26

Amanda Cheesley, Copa and Cogeca Press Officer, Mobile: + 32 474 840 836

Metsähallitus has published its annual report for 2017

The online annual report of Metsähallitus is a comprehensive review of our first operating year under the new Act on Metsähallitus and our environmentally and socially sustainable operations.

A successful year paves the way for a more responsible future

The year 2017 was a successful one: the performance target was exceeded and Metsähallitus also achieved the other targets set for it. The year 2017 also marked the centenary of Finland’s independence and a large number of events was held to celebrate the anniversary.

Responsibility is a key component in the development of the new uniformly structured Metsähallitus. Metsähallitus launched an extensive responsibility programme at the end of 2017 and joined the FIBS corporate responsibility and biodiversity networks.

In connection with the annual report, the operating reports and financial statements of the Metsähallitus Group and its Public Administration Services (Parks & Wildlife Finland) are also published.

Annual report 2017: vuosikertomus2017.metsa.fi/en



Farmland and Forest Fund of the Republic of Slovenia celebrated 25th anniversary of operating

On May 11, 2018, Farmland and Forest Fund of the Republic of Slovenia was celebrating 25 years of operating. The celebration was in Festival Hall in Ljubljana. On this event, Slovenian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Mr. Dejan Židan and director of Farmland and Forest Fund of the Republic of Slovenia Irena Šinko had speech to the guests.

Farmland and Forest Fund of the Republic of Slovenia was establish with purpose to manage and dispose with agriculture land, farms, forests and other land owned by Republic of Slovenia. Other tasks of Fund are also care for sustainable management with agricultural land and farms. The Fund is also obligated to return the agricultural land and forests to beneficiaries in denationalization procedures.

The Fund returned to beneficiaries in denationalization procedures 163.000 ha of land, worth 399.500.000 €, 94.000 ha of forests, 54.000 ha of agricultural land and 14.000 other type of land.

The Fund goals in the future are:

–       managing with state owned agricultural land in the extend of 10 percent of all agricultural land in Republic of Slovenia

–       to return as soon as possible all agricultural land, farms and forest land to beneficiaries in denationalization procedures

–       to buy land of strategic importance for state and their citizens

–       to enable and encourage development of young family farms and helps farms which get into financial troubles, by buying their land and still allow them to use this land.


Key priorities of the New Co-Chairs of the Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) at the European Parliament Intergroup

Ms. Jytte Guteland (S&D), MEP from Sweden and Member of ENVI, and Mr. Herbert Dorfmann (EPP), MEP from Italy with a significant experience as Member of  AGRI and substitute in ENVI, are the co-chairs of the Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) at the The European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”. The fact that the chairmanship of Sustainable Forest Management is shared among two relevant MEPs from the two main political groups is definitely a good news, and specifically relevant are their priorities, very much in line with EUSTAFOR approach to EU forest-related policies, and aiming at well recognising the managers of public forests.

Priorities of Ms Guteland:

  • Promote climate action within EU policies and commit to reducing EU’s vulnerability to climate change impacts
  • Encourage, support and incentivize renewable energy supply
  • Emphasize on the competiveness of the forest and forest-based sector, and its key role towards EU bioeconomy and rural development
  • Ensure the sustainable use of pesticides in forests
  • Support forest management plans, and related biodiversity considerations, to ensure Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)
  • Safeguard the maintenance and sustainability of healthy European forests, either public or private

Priorities of Mr Dorfmann:

  • Contribute to the development, implementation and promotion of multifunctional and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)
  • Safeguard economically viable and ecologically sustainable forests in Europe
  • Balance the interests of private and public forest owners in Europe to strengthen their position in relevant policy processes
  • Highlight the benefits of the forest economy and strengthen economic opportunities across EU
  • Raise awareness on the importance of forests and the forest-based sector in rural areas regarding their economic welfare and creation of jobs
  • Follow-up on the EU Forest Strategy

2018 Forest Innovation Workshop: report and presentations now available!

he third edition of the Forest Innovation Workshop “Inform-Prioritize-Collaborate: Cooperation of Regions on Innovation in Forest Management, Use of Wood and Forest-related Services” took place on 28 April 2018 in Brussels.

The event aimed at focusing on practical ideas and cases tackling forest-related challenges through innovation. The plenary session provided an overview on the European framework for innovation in forestry, while 4 break-out sessions were organised on the following topics:

  • Managing Impacts related to Climate Change,
  • Supporting Wood and Biomass Mobilization,
  • Supporting the Provision of Ecosystem Services,
  • Improving Sustainable Forest Management Approaches and Tools.

Mark Carlin, Director of Forest Operations at Coillte (Irish state forests) presented SATMODO – Timber Harvesting Information & Communication Technology which was developed to create one single platform to integrate all harvesting information to and from all of Coillte’s harvesting sites. The Satmodo platform is designed to optimise operational efficiency, reduce waste and improve environmental sustainability. The main aim of this technology is to provide ‘live’ data communications.

Kaisa Vainio from Metsähallitus (Finnish State Forests) delivered a presentation on a new method developed by Metsähallitus, which sets new forest management targets are defined based on CO2 binding and C storage. Each of Finnish State Forests 10 million compartments in GIS-data has been classified into seven classes. E.g. in habitats and areas where growth possibilities are good, management objectives emphasize enhancing forest growth and production. In areas and habitats with lower growth potential and/or land use restrictions the management priorities forest health, multiple use of forests and carbon storage. Seven classes offer the instructions for forestry planning by taking into account climate sustainability.

Still, Regions were at the core of the workshop, and in some cases, as for Spain and Italy, Regional Services are in charge of forest management for state forests.

EUSTAFOR was invited to chair the session about climate change, and in the concluding report from the session, Salvatore Martire (from EUSTAFOR Executive Office), which was chairing the session, stated how climate change adaptation is a priority for forestry and this should be recognized by the upcoming new CAP.

The presentations and the documentation of the plenary and break-out sessions are now available on the event page.

This third edition of the workshop was jointly organised by Euromontana, the ERIAFF Network (European Regions for Innovation in Agriculture, Food and Forestry), the European Forest Institute (EFI), the European Confederation of Forest Owners (CEPF), EUSTAFOR (the European State Forest Association), COPA-COGECA (European Farmers and Agri-cooperatives) and ERRIN (European Regions for Research and Innovation Network).

Natural resources plan for Central and Northern Ostrobothnia promotes actions for the good of nature and man

The Metsähallitus natural resources plan for Central and Northern Ostrobothnia has been completed.  Key aspects highlighted in the plan are the responsible and sustainable use of natural resources, the vitality of regions as well as adapting and preparing for climate change. The planning approach involving extensive participation and based on creative cooperation is also unique when compared with the methods used by other European forestry administrations. 

Facilitating economic activities and well-being

State-owned land and water areas provide plenty of opportunities for strengthening the vitality of the regions and promoting both people’s and nature’s well-being. The plan, which was produced in cooperation with nearly 30 stakeholders, will steer Metsähallitus activities in the regions’ state-owned land and water areas over the next five years. The results of the cooperation group workshops made up of stakeholders as
well as other participation in accordance with the State-owner’s objectives formed a strong foundation for an action plan spanning from 2018 to 2023.

Business opportunities will be actively developed and an effort will be made to create the best conditions for entrepreneurship. The supply of wood will be increased to 33,000 cubic metres a year. The increase will be made possible by increasing intermediate felling. Around 0.96 million cubic metres of trees will be felled annually in multiple-use forests during the programme period. The amount is approximately one half of the annual growth.

Nature tourism will be promoted by responding to the growing demand for national parks and other popular natural areas and at the same time guaranteeing the areas’ sustainable use. The conditions for entrepreneurs in the wilderness industry will be improved by offering versatile hunting and fishing opportunities. The development of tourism areas will be supported by continuing plot sales and rentals especially in the Koillismaa area.

Reindeer husbandry will be taken into account in the reindeer herding area as specified in the agreement entered into by Metsähallitus and the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association.

The well-being and health benefits brought about by nature will be promoted by developing wilderness and recreational use services.

Biodiversity will be promoted and steps will be taken to prepare for climate change.

The results of the workshops held by cooperation groups as well as other participation formed a strong foundation for the action programme, which will span from 2018 to 2023.

Preparation for and adaptation to climate change will be implemented in a number of ways by maintaining the carbon binding quality of trees at a good level and by increasing the about of carbon bound by the forests, by seeing the health of forests and maintaining road as by drawing up a climate change preparation an adaptation plan for the network of protected areas.

Biodiversity will be promoted by targeting management and care, as well as other ways to protect species and habitats cost-effectively. An update project for landscape ecological planning will be carried out during the planning period. More decaying wood and sturdy deciduous trees will be added to multiple-use forests, as this is important for species. An action plan for nature management will be drawn up for multiple-use forests, which will include numerous measures such as the management of areas in which game live and the removal of all obstacles preventing fish from migrating.

Special felling will be used in places where biodiversity, recreation and game management are areas of focus. The land area on which special felling will be carried out will be increased moderately on the basis of experience, Comprehensive felling will be the principle option used in non-productive peatlands. The Kylmäluoma hiking area is being developed for example into a model area for spelling fellings, Forest management investments will be cut for non-productive peatland growth areas. The plan aims at a good state of both marine and inland eater areas and an increase to biodiversity using various methods.

The implementation of the natural resources plan will be monitored yearly. A new natural resources plan will be drawn up for the area in 2023.