Sustainable forestry should stay at the very core of the new CAP

Recognition of the role of sustainable forestry by the CAP will contribute to its common objectives, such as developing vibrant rural areas, while contributing to climate action and responding to the adaptation needs for climate-resilient landscapes. It is essential to ensure that the role of forests is well-framed in the context of assessing progresses towards the CAP’s nine specific objectives and that, consequently, forestry measures are ensured in all Member States.

The statement follows the event“Which role for forests in the future Common Agricultural Policy?” which was held in the European Parliament on 10 July 2018.

MEP Herbert Dorfmann(Italy, EPP) opened the event, highlighting the importance of the CAP in implementing the EU Forest Strategy. He expressed disappointment for the budgetary cuts which are particularly significant for the rural development fund, which is relevant for forestry.

Peter Wehrheim,Member of the Cabinet of Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, presented the Commission’s proposal and objectives and highlighted that the EU Forest Strategy should serve as the basis for the CAP as regards forestry. He stressed the importance of forests for job creation in rural areas, while ensuring the delivery of ecosystem services to the society at large, and their important role towards creating a low-carbon and climate friendly economy. He also touched upon governance aspects and the subsidiarity principle for forest policies.

Ingwald Gschwandtl,Director at the Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism of Austria, presented multifunctional forest management in Austria and the strong relationship between forests and people, especially in mountainous areas. He noted the importance of measures within the CAP for the development of forest infrastructures and the need to make incentives from the CAP attractive for foresters.

Octavian Anghel,Deputy CEO of the Romanian State Forests ROMSILVA, presented the challenges of public forest holders in Romania, and the need to strengthen forests against risks by supporting specific forestry measures. In addition, he pointed out that sustainable management of existing forests should be at least as important as afforestation. Priority should be given to the adaptation needs of European forests in order to prevent destruction from forest fires, pests, storms and other threats.

Arpo Kullerkupp,Estonian Private Forest Union, stressed that the Rural Development fund supports a wide range of forestry measures that are beneficial for the development of vibrant rural areas and the protection of the environment. The Estonian examples brought forth included compensation for Natura 2000 sites, development of forest areas and improvement of the viability of forests.

Jabier Ruiz, WWF, suggested considering the possibility to allow forestry to also benefit from funding from the first pillar. In particular, he stressed the importance of forestry measures for climate action and biodiversity conservation.

A broad discussion followed the presentations, which touched upon governance issues, such as the importance of a Legally Binding Agreement on forests in Europe, the roles of different actors who ensure that forestry measures will be addressed in Member States’ Strategic Plans, as well as forestry’s adaptation needs.

MEP Jytte Guteland(Sweden, S&D) closed the event by offering her perception that managed forests are “green gold”: Forests can be used not only for recreational purposes but also to boost the viability of rural areas, for mitigating climate change, improving biodiversity and social inclusion.

In conclusion, it is crucial that sustainable forest management stays at the very core of the CAP in each Member State in order to allow forests to contribute towards the priorities of the European Union.

The event was hosted by Ms. Guteland and Mr. Dorfmann within the framework of the European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, in cooperation with the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) and the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR).

For further information

EUSTAFOR (European State Forest Association) Salvatore Martire, Policy Advisor, salvatore.martire@eustafor.eu

CEPF (Confederation of European Forest Owners) Helene Koch, Policy Officer,  helene.koch@cepf-eu.org

 

Policy update on the new Common Agricultural Policy

12.07.2018

The European Commission proposal for a new Common Agricultural Policy 2021-2027 was published on 1 June 2018 (eustafor.express 69 article| eustafor.express 70 article). The proposal has been sent to European Parliament and Council, which will be working on their respective positions as part of the co-decision process. The proposals are in line with the European Commission’s Communication on the future of food and farming presented in November 2017 (LINK).

The legislative proposal consists the following regulations:

  • CAP Strategic Plans, which covers direct payments, rural development and sectorial support programs
  • Horizontal Regulation, which convers financing, management and monitoring
  • Amending regulation, which amends CMO, quality schemes and aromatized wines

Roles and timing at the European Parliament

The reports have been allocated to the political groups of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COM/AGRI). To the best of the EUSTAFOR Executive Office’s knowledge, Maria Herranz Garcia(Spain, EPP) will be the Rapporteur for the CAP Strategic Plans, Ulrike Müller(Germany, ALDE) will be the Rapporteur for the Horizontal Regulation, Éric Andrieu(France, S&D) will be the rapporteur for CMO, quality schemes & aromatized wines. Competences between COM/AGRI and COM/ENVI are still under discussion.

Shadow Rapporteurs for the CAP Strategic Plans should be: Maria Noichl(Germany, S&D), James Nicholson(UK, ECR), Jan Huitema(Finland, ALDE), Marco Zullo(Italy, EFDD).

Active work on the reports is expected to start in September 2018. Nevertheless, the co‑decision process it is likely to be delayed, as elections are scheduled in June 2019, and the new Commission will be nominated in October 2019. Moreover, many COM/AGRI members are interested in giving priority to the approval of the EU Budget by the end of the current legislature.

Lower budget especially for rural development initiatives

The budget for the new CAP will be 365 billion EUR, which means a 12% cut in constant 2018 prices (source: FarmEurope/Bruegel), of which:

265.2 billion EUR (73%) allocated to direct payments (EAGF European Agiricolture Guarantee Found)

78.8 billion EUR (21,5%) allocated to the EAFRD (European Agriculture Found for Rural Development)

10 billion EUR should be dedicated to research and innovation (Horizon Europe) and other funds allocated to LIFE (Programme for Environment and Climate Action) and EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund).

Commissioner Hogan assured that direct payments will not fall more than 4% in each Member State, while several sources indicate a cut of 10% of the former allocated rural development policy budget. Moreover, flexibility will be given for transfers between EAFRD and direct payments.

The CAP Strategic Plans

The key change with respect the current CAP is the delivery model, which will be based on higher subsidiarity and greater responsibility given to Member States.

The CAP identifies the following general objectives (Art 5):

  1. to foster a smart, resilient and diversified agricultural sector ensuring food security;
  2. to bolster environmental care and climate action and to contribute to the environmental- and climate-related objectives of the Union;
  3. to strengthen the socio-economic fabric of rural areas.

Those objectives shall be complemented by the cross-cutting objective of modernizing the sector by the fostering and sharing of knowledge, innovation and digitalization in agriculture and rural areas, and encouraging their uptake.

 

The achievement of the general objectives shall be pursued through the following specific objectives (Art6):

(a)  support viable farm income and resilience across the Union to enhance food security;

(b)  enhance market orientation and increase competitiveness, including greater focus on research, technology and digitalization;

(c)  improve the farmers’ position in the value chain;

(d)  contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as sustainable energy;

(e)  foster sustainable development and efficient management of natural resources such as water, soil and air;

(f)  contribute to the protection of biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services and preserve habitats and landscapes;

(g)  attract young farmers and facilitate business development in rural areas;

(h)  promote employment, growth, social inclusion and local development in rural areas, including bio-economy and sustainable forestry;

(i)  improve the response of EU agriculture to societal demands on food and health, including safe, nutritious and sustainable food, food waste, as well as animal welfare.

The new CAP should then set common objectives, types of interventions and basic requirements as well as the procedures to develop, prove and modify the CAP Strategic Plans of the Member States.

The Member States should define a 2021-2027 Strategic Plan for both pillars (direct payments and rural development and interventions). Therefore, there is an high flexibility for Member States to define how to contribute to the common objectives.

From a first understanding based simply on their titles the forestry-relevant objectives may potentially be the points d), e), f) and h) and, to a lesser extent, b). But due to the multiple functions of forests, the list can be longer or shorter depending on the interpretation of such objectives. In fact, a more detailed definition of the objectives (Art 5 and 6) can be derived by the fact that such objectives will be assessed on the basis of common indicators related to output, result and impact (Annexes to the CAP Strategic Plans).

For the specific objective

(d)  contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as sustainable energy;

Forests are mentioned with regards to bioenergy production, carbon storage, as well as afforestation, while Sustainable Forest Management is not considered as a climate mitigation action and specific references to adaptation needs in forestry.

The impact (I) and results (R) indicators are

I.9 Improving farm resilience: Index

I.10 Contribute to climate change mitigation: Reducing GHG emissions from agriculture

I.11 Enhancing carbon sequestration: Increase the soil organic carbon

I.12 Increase sustainable energy in agriculture: Production of renewable energy from agriculture and forestry

R.12 Adaptation to climate change: Share of agricultural land under commitments to improve climate adaptation

R.13 Reducing emissions in the livestock sector: Share of livestock units under support to reduce GHG emissions and/or ammonia, including manure management

R.14 Carbon storage in soils and biomass: Share of agricultural land under commitments to reducing emissions, maintaining and/or enhancing carbon storage (permanent grassland, agricultural land in peatland, forest, etc.)

R.15 Green energy from agriculture and forestry:

Investments in renewable energy production capacity, including bio-based (MW)

R.16 Enhance energy efficiency: Energy savings in agriculture

R 17 Afforested land: Area supported for afforestation and creation of woodland, including agroforestry

 

For the specific objective

(e)  foster sustainable development and efficient management of natural resources such as water, soil and air;

Forests (40% of European lands) are not considered as crucial for clean water and air.

The impact (I) and results (R) indicators are

I.13 Reducing soil erosion: Percentage of land in moderate and severe soil erosion on agricultural land

I.14 Improving air quality: Reduce ammonia emissions from agriculture

I.15 Improving water quality: Gross nutrient balance on agricultural land

1.16 Reducing nutrient leakage: Nitrate in ground water – Percentage of ground water stations with N concentration over 50 mg/l as per the Nitrate directive

I.17 Reducing pressure on water resource: Water Exploitation Index Plus (WEI+)

R.18 Improving soils: Share of agricultural land under management commitments beneficial for soil management

R.19 Improving air quality: Share of agricultural land under commitments to reduce ammonia emission

R.20 Protecting water quality: Share of agricultural land under management commitments for water quality

R.21 Sustainable nutrient management: Share of agricultural land under commitments related to improved nutrient management

R.22 Sustainable water use: Share of irrigated land under commitments to improve water balance

R.23 Environment-/climate-related performance through investment: Share of farmers with support in investments related to care for the environment or climate

R.24 Environmental/climate performance through knowledge: Share of farmers receiving support for advice/training related to environmental- climate performance

For the specific objective

(f)  contribute to the protection of biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services and preserve habitats and landscapes;

While Sustainable Forest Management and Natura 2000 are taken into consideration, the result should nevertheless be oriented towards better support for the existing protected areas rather than measuring increases in their extension.

The impact (I) and results (R) indicators are

I.18 Increasing farmland bird populations: Farmland Bird Index

I.19 Enhanced biodiversity protection:

Percentage of species and habitats of Community interest related to agriculture with stable or increasing trends

I.20 Enhanced provision of ecosystem services: share of UAA covered with landscape features

R.25 Supporting sustainable forest management: Share of forest land under management commitments to support forest protection and management.

R.26 Protecting forest ecosystems: Share of forest land under management commitments for supporting landscape, biodiversity and ecosystem services

R.27 Preserving habitats and species: Share of agricultural land under management commitments supporting biodiversity conservation or restoration

R.28 Supporting Natura 2000: Area in Natura 2000 sites under commitments for protection, maintenance and restoration

R.29 Preserving landscape features: Share of agriculture land under commitments for managing landscape features, including hedgerows

For the specific objective

(h)  promote employment, growth, social inclusion and local development in rural areas, including bio-economy and sustainable forestry;

The bioeconomy is taken into account, but there is no specific mention of the role of the forest-based sector for the development of rural areas.

The impact (I) and results (R) indicators are

I.22 Contributing to jobs in rural areas: Evolution of the employment rate in predominantly rural areas

I.23 Contributing to growth in rural areas: Evolution of GDP per head in predominantly rural areas

1.24 A fairer CAP: Improve the distribution of CAP support

I.25 Promoting rural inclusion: Evolution of poverty index in rural areas

R.31 Growth and jobs in rural areas: New jobs in supported projects

R.32 Developing the rural bioeconomy: Number of bio- economy businesses developed with support

R.33 Digitizing the rural economy: Rural population covered by a supported Smart Villages strategy

R.34 Connecting rural Europe: Share of rural population benefitting from improved access to services and infrastructure through CAP support

R.35 Promoting social inclusion: Number of people from minority and/or vulnerable groups benefitting from supported social inclusion projects

A bottom-up approach would be beneficial to address specific issues, which is often the case for forestry, but It remains unclear with what level of flexibility the indicators will be applied to the Member States, and as one Strategic Plan per Member State has been planned, it is also unclear how regional rural development policy will be addressed in this context.

While the specific objectives would be promising for the consideration of forestry in the new CAP, especially with regards the above listed objectives, a closer look at the indicators proposed to assess progress towards those objectives may not guarantee that in each Member State forestry measures will be properly supported. Moreover, the indicators do not specifically go in a direction of supporting a multifunctional and sustainable forest management, as the only explicit reference to sustainable forest management planning is reported as a result indicator of the objective (f) contribute to the protection of biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services and preserve habitats and landscapes in terms of “Share of forest land under management commitments to support forest protection and management.”  Such approach do not seem to bring any specific benefit to state forests which are normally already under management commitments.  Such provisions somehow conflict with what is stated in Recitals, for example that “Forestry measures should contribute to the implementation of the Union Forest Strategy,” while confirming worries with regards to climate policy where forests are seen as a short-term stock rather than a long-term sink.

Rural Development – TITLE III / CHAPTER IV

The proposal does not define a list of measures which can be implemented by Member States. Rather, it defines “types of intervention” and national CAP Strategic Plans would define the actual measures and eligibility conditions for each intervention, with respect to the EU regulatory framework. There are 8 types of interventions for rural development:

(a)  environmental, climate and other management commitments;

(b)  natural or other area-specific constraints;

(c)  Area-specific disadvantages resulting from certain mandatory requirements;

(d)  investments;

(e)  installation of young farmers and rural business start-up;

(f)  risk management tools;

(g)  cooperation;

(h)  knowledge exchange and information.

Specific provisions for each type of intervention relevant, or potentially relevant, to state forest managers are listed below (the lists for each type is longer) 

(a) Environmental, climate and other management commitments;

  1. Member States shall only grant payments to farmers and other beneficiaries who undertake, on a voluntary basis, management commitments which are considered to be beneficial to achieving the specific objectives set out in Article 6(1).
  2. Under this type of interventions, Member States shall only provide payments covering commitments which: (a)  go beyond the relevant statutory management requirements and standards of good agricultural and environmental condition established under Section 2 of Chapter I of this Title; (b)  go beyond the minimum requirements for the use of fertilizer and plant protection products, animal welfare, as well as other mandatory requirements established by national and Union law;
  3. Member States shall compensate beneficiaries for costs incurred and income foregone resulting from the commitments made. Where necessary, they may also cover transaction costs. In duly justified cases, Member States may grant support as a flat-rate or as a one- off payment per unit. Payments shall be granted annually.

(b)  Natural or other area-specific constraints;

1.Member States may grant payments for natural or other area-specific constraints under the conditions set out in this Article and as further specified in their CAP Strategic Plans with the view of contributing to the achievement of the specific objectives set out in Article 6(1).

(c)  Area-specific disadvantages resulting from certain mandatory requirements;

1.Member States may grant payments for area-specific disadvantages imposed by requirements resulting from the implementation of Directives 92/43/EEC and 2009/147/EC or Directive 2000/60/EC under the conditions set out in this Article and as further specified in their CAP Strategic Plans with the view of contributing to the achievement of the specific objectives set out in Article 6(1).

  1. These payments may be granted to farmers, forest holders and other land managers in respect of areas with disadvantages referred to in paragraph 1.

(d)  Investments;

1.Member States may grant support for investments under the conditions set out in this Article and as further specified in their CAP Strategic Plans.

  1. Member States may only grant support under this type of interventions for tangible and/or intangible investments, which contribute to achieving the specific objectives set out in Article 6. Support to the forestry sector shall be based on a forest management plan or equivalent instrument. Member States shall establish a list of ineligible investments and categories of expenditure, including at least the following:

(a)  purchase of agricultural production rights;

(b)  purchase of payment entitlements;

(c)  purchase of land with the exception of land purchase for environmental conservation or land purchased by young farmers through the use of financial instruments;

(d)  purchase of animals, annual plants and their planting other than for the purpose of restoring agricultural or forestry potential following natural disaster and catastrophic events;

(e)  interest rate on debt, except in relation to grants given in the form of an interest rate subsidy or guarantee fee subsidy;

(f)  investments in irrigation which are not consistent with the achievement of good status of water bodies, as laid down in Article 4(1) of Directive 2000/60/EC, including expansion of irrigation affecting water bodies whose status has been defined as less than good in the relevant river basin management plan;

(g)  Investments in large infrastructures not being part of local development strategies;

(h)  Investments in afforestation which are not consistent with climate and environmental objectives in line with sustainable forest management principles, as developed in the Pan-European Guidelines for Afforestation and Reforestation.

  1. Member States shall limit the support to the maximum rate of 75% of the eligible costs. The maximum support rate may be increased for the following investments: (a)  afforestation and non-productive investments linked to the specific environmental- and climate-related objectives set out in points (d), (e) and (f) of Article 6(1);

(b)  investments in basic services in rural areas;

(c)  investments in the restoration of agricultural or forestry potential following natural disasters or catastrophic events and investments in appropriate preventive actions in forests and in the rural environment.

(f)  risk management tools;  

  1. Member States shall grant support under this type of interventions in order to promote risk management tools, which help genuine farmers manage production and income risks related to their agricultural activity which are outside their control and which contribute to achieving the specific objectives set out in Article 6.
  2. Member States shall ensure that overcompensation as a result of the combination of the interventions under this Article with other public or private risk management schemes is avoided.

Eligibility

The eligibility of beneficiaries should be set by the Member State and based on “delivery on the ground” (check IA, Art 31, eligibility rules, legislative financial statement point 2)

Other aspects less relevant to state forest managers to be assessed

Conditionality and eco-schemes

The commission proposal deletes greening measures and seems to strengthen the conditionality (Art 11) and “eco-schemes” for climate and the environment financed by direct payments (Art 28).

Details on the new GAEC are reported in ANNEX II

Direct Payments

Direct payments are detailed in the TITLE III – CH 2

Allocations to specific sectors

Article 82 (Financial allocations for certain sectoral types of interventions) does not mention forestry

 

ROADMAP “EVALUATION OF THE EU BIODIVERSITY STRATEGY TO 2020” published

The European Commission has made public the roadmap for the Evaluation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

More information are available at this link (deadline for feedback is 18 July 2018):

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2018-3259397_en

EUSTAFOR has produced a feedback which can be download from this webpage

EUSTAFOR Comments to the draft final report on ‘Informing strategic green infrastructure and restoration planning through mapping and assessment methods based on spatial and technical data’

The draft final report on ‘Informing strategic green infrastructure and restoration planning through mapping and assessment methods based on spatial and technical data’, prepared jointly by the EEA  the JRC and DG Environment is now ready and available at :  https://circabc.europa.eu/w/browse/6d5e35cb-8074-4ded-a796-a6efcb6917e0

As this document is relevant in the context of Natura 2000 and, more in general, with regards EU Environmental policy developments, EUSTAFOR has submitted to DG ENVI some comments to the report which can be dowloaded at this link. Due to the close deadline it was not possible to collect input from members, nevertheless, we advice to liaise with the relevant authorities at Member State level, and to monitor the processes with regards not only Green Infrastructures, but also MAES (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services) within the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.