A bottom-up approach to the use of forest biomass

Joint statement on the EU Non-Binding Guidance on the Cascading Use of Biomass //

Forests cover more than 40 percent of the EU’s land area. They are essential for life on earth, providing the bioeconomy with renewable materials, energy as well as other ecosystem services. Sustainably managed forests and the forest sector play a key role in the transition towards a sustainable circular bioeconomy. Their role is therefore crucial towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Capturing the potential of forests to support economic growth and deliver local and global environmental services will require an economically vital forest sector.

At EU level, the role of multifunctional and sustainably managed forests is well recognized by the EU Forest Strategy. The implementation of existing European and national policies, regulations and voluntary tools verify the sustainability of forest biomass sourcing, irrespective of its end use.

Resource efficiency is at the core of the multi-purpose use of forest biomass, as the most important product which generates income is high-value timber. Yet, resource allocation is not a static issue as price changes and technological progress may open up new and more efficient uses of raw materials. Moreover, the increase in the availability of forest resources in Europe currently surpasses their use, resulting in about two thirds of the annual increment being harvested. Profitability and innovation in forestry have an important role to play in providing wood and other ecosystem services.

The signing organizations welcome the efforts made by the European Commission with their proposal of anon-binding guidance on the cascading use of biomass to improve understanding and share knowledge of best practices with regards to resource efficiency in the bio-based value chains as long as it is well taken into account that:

  • Any attempt at any level to introduce a hierarchy in the use of products and by-products would create negative unintended consequences such as market distortions and innovation bottlenecks. These may result in sub-optimal value cycles and would be detrimental to some forestry sub-sectors;
  • The diversity of forests and their management in Europe should be recognized, because national and regional circumstances vary greatly in terms of forest resources, industry capacity and development, wood markets and energy systems;
  • In order to draw the highest possible values from forests, the full range of uses of biomass should be enhanced.The introduction of restrictions on the use of biomass will jeopardize the role of the forest sector in the bioeconomy.

Therefore, in order to boost a successful transition to a circular bioeconomy, the approach to resource efficiency in the forest-based sector should be bottom-up, market-based and well-grounded in innovation and knowledge exchange.The forestry sector can catalyze the development of a European-wide bioeconomy in line with the principles of the circular economy. However, this will be possible only if all principles of sustainable forest management are equally recognized and its correlated competitiveness is supported by the EU’s forest-related policies and initiatives.

Bioenergy Europe CEPF – Confederation of European Forest Owners COPA & COGECA – European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives EOS – European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry EUSTAFOR – European State Forest Association UEF – Union of European Foresters USSE – Union of Foresters of Southern Europe

Mid-term review of the EU Forest Strategy: where do we stand?

The mid-term review of the EU Forest Strategy (2013) is currently ongoing. In a recent meeting between EUSTAFOR and the European Commission’s DG Agriculture, a roadmap of the next steps towards the finalization of the mid-term review was given.

During the last year, the EU Forest Strategy has been an important topic for EUSTAFOR (link) as the finalization by DG AGRI of the mid-term review of the EU Forest Strategy is expected by the end of the year.

The European Forest Institute (EFI) is completing a study on the progress in implementing the EU Forest Strategy for the European Commission and EUSTAFOR has already provided its feedback (link).

During a recent meeting, DG Agriculture informed the EUSTAFOR Office that the Commission will produce a political report based on EFI’s study which will be presented to the European Parliament’s ENVI, AGRI and ITRE committees in December 2018. Following this, the Council is expected to produce its conclusions on the Commission’s report, but it is not clear whether the European Parliament will undertake this file in the current term.

 

EUSTAFOR becomes an Associated Member of the European Forest Institute

On 3 September 2018 the Board of the European Forest Institute (EFI) approved EUSTAFOR’s application for Associated Membership. A decision to apply for  membership to EFI was taken by the ExCom following a discussion held on 17 November 2017 in Regensburg, Bavaria.

The benefits of EFI membership can be summarized as follows:

  • Access to regular and timely information on EFI activities and issues related to European forest research in general (EFI Network News, e-mails from membership service, Directors’ letters).
  • Opportunity to influence the direction of EFI’s program – Associate Members have the right to vote at the Annual Conference.
  • Opportunityto stand for Board membership and have a direct influence on the functioning of EFI.
  • Enhanced networking opportunities.
  • Research collaboration: Associate and Affiliate Members can combine their expertise, find synergies, and share facilities.
  • Strengthenedadvocacy: EFI represents the European forest science community on global and European stages.
  • Participation inpolicy support actions: EFI’s member organizations can be involved in mobilizing the expertise to address policy-relevant questions. EFI’s high-level science-policy forum ThinkForest works to identify emerging policy needs as well as to highlight new knowledge for informed decision-making.

Benefiting fromGrants: EFI offers grants for scientific visits for forest research and education organizations wishing to visit another institute

24th session of COFO and the 6th World Forest Week, 16-20 July 2018, FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy

“Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals – from aspiration to action” was the leitmotiv of the 24th session of COFO and the 6th World Forest Week. This year’s session explored the contributions that forests can make to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other internationally agreed goals; discussed ways and means to accelerate progress, in particular, towards Goal 15; discussed actions for implementing the policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security regarding the contributions of forests to food security and nutrition; reviewed opportunities and challenges for urban and peri-urban forestry; considered the implementation of FAO’s climate change strategy and specific tasks related to forest resilience, health and forest fires; and provided strategic direction for the future work of FAO in forestry. The Committee also welcomed the launch of State of the World’s Forests 2018 (SOFO 2018), entitled “Forest Pathways to Sustainable Development,”and its key messages.

The collaboration of the FAO Technical Committees will also continue and will focus on the SDGs, climate change and food security.

For the sixth time, COFO was held in conjunction with the World Forest Week – a series of meetings and events sponsored by FAO and its partner organizations and institutions. The World Forest Week is an opportunity for sharing state-of-the-art knowledge and major accomplishments and achievements.

More information available under this link.

The Committee on Forestry (COFO) is the highest FAO Forestry statutory body. The biennial sessions of COFO (held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy) bring together heads of forest services and other senior government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, to seek solutions and to advise FAO and others on appropriate action. Other international organizations and, increasingly, non-governmental groups participate in COFO.  Participation in COFO is open to all FAO member countries.

Commission updates Key Concepts for Article 7(4) of Directive 2009/147/EC

Forests play a significant role in maintaining habitats for many bird species.  Provisions of the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC, which aims to protect bird species as well set requirements on bird management and monitoring, can affect forest management practices in Natura 2000 designated areas. Article 7(1) of the Bird Directive states that bird species listed in Annex II may be hunted under national legislation, owing to their population level, geographical distribution and reproductive rate throughout the community. But Article 7(4) states that “Member States shall ensure that the practice of hunting [..] complies with the principles of wise use and ecologically balanced control [..] and are not hunted during rearing season or during the various stages of reproduction.”

The Court of Justice (1994) concluded that information about huntable bird species must be gathered. Hunting must be closed and the complete protection of huntable species must be guaranteed during the period of reproduction and prenuptial migration. To facilitate data collection, the document “Key concepts of Article 7(4) of directive 79/409/EEC” (KCD) was elaborated to provide the EU Commission with data from all Member States (MS). The document has been updated several times since 2001 with the entrance of new MS into the EU.

Why the update is required

During the 10thNADEG meetingheld on 22–23 May 2018the need to refresh the information on trends of huntable birds was discussed. Although already comprehensive, the data is to be further reviewed and updated in the future to take into account the most recent data in all MS and to remove some discrepancies between MS. Furthermore, sizes and trends of bird populations are changing and the global climate has brought about changes in the periods of reproduction and prenuptial migrations.

Concerned authorities and time frames

Competent authorities from MS must provide the data to the Commission until 31 October.  After that, the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), Birdlife Internationalas well as national representatives of scientific working groups will make quality checks and compile a draft report. The draft will be discussed at the NADEG meeting in May 2019 and approved by the subsequent NADEG meeting in June 2019 (see list below).

  • The deadline for submission to the Commission of a completed database by Member States is 31 October 2018
  • November 2018 – March 2019: processing and assessing data (quality check, coherence, references, etc.) and preparation of a draft updated document by the Commission services
  • Spring 2019: meeting of the NADEG expert group
  • May 2019: discussion at the NADEG meeting (if needed)
  • July 2019: final draft approved by NADEG
  • By December 2019: Updated Key Concepts document on the period of reproduction and prenuptial migrations adopted at Commission level.

More information on the migration of huntable bird species in the EU is available under this link.The EC Guidance on the Birds Directive is available here.

LULUCF: practical consequences for the forest-based sector

EUSTAFOR, together with a number of organisations of the forest-based sector (EOS, CEPI and CEPF) and with the support of CEI-Bois, are organising a joint workshop on the practical consequences of the recently adopted Regulation for the inclusion of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) within the 2030 EU Climate and Energy framework. The event will be held on September 25, 2018 at the Tuscany Region EU Office in Brussels.

Main focus will be on the impact of the new Forest Reference Levels to be set by the Member States on the annual harvest levels in European forests and the potential implications for the domestic wood supply in the EU, specifically on the down-stream value chains. The participants will address aspects linked to the Commission’s guidance on the implementation of the LULUCF Regulation and especially the rules for setting up new Forest Reference Levels.

The distinctiveness and specificity of the LULUCF Regulation will then be explained by speakers from France, Poland, Sweden Switzerland, Romania, Finland and Spain. They will describe their respective national orientations for optimizing the sector’s contribution to climate change mitigation while also ensuring the enhancement of the competitiveness of the forest-based industries.

Forests are home to at least 80 percent of the world’s remaining terrestrial biodiversity. Forests and the forest sector can positively contribute to the climate change mitigation and adaptation by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Sustainable forest management also helps to maintain the fertility of the soil, protect watersheds and reduce the risk of natural disasters. At the same time, forest are an important source of economic growth and employment. Forest-based industries represent about 7% of the EU’s manufacturing GDP. They have a combined production value of €460 billion, with a total added value of €135 billion on a turnover of €485 billion. In 2015, they employed 3.3 million persons across the EU-28, the equivalent of 11 % of the total manufacturing sector (source: Eurostat). Raw material used by the forest-based industries provides income to around 16 million forest owners in the EU.

The Agenda and the registration form can be downloaded from this page