Answer given by Mr Sinkevi?ius on behalf of the European Commission to a question by Robert Hajšel and Monika Be?ová on “EU Forest Strategy.”
EU legislation on nature protection (1) contains measures for the protection and restoration of habitats of natural forests and of particular species. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (2) states that, as part of the focus on strict protection of EU land, it is crucial to define, map, monitor and strictly protect all the EU’s remaining primary and old-growth forests, which are the richest forest ecosystems that remove carbon from the atmosphere, while storing significant carbon stocks. Building on the Biodiversity Strategy, the Commission will present a new Forest Strategy in 2021 covering the whole forest cycle and promoting the many services that forests provide. Moreover, subject to an impact assessment, the Commission will put forward a proposal for legally binding EU nature restoration targets in 2021, in particular for those habitats with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters.
EU policies must be material-neutral, so priorities must be based on relevant performance criteria. Several funds or instruments under the current and next multiannual financial framework (MFF), e.g. the European Regional Development Fund (3) , the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (4) , InvestEU (5) , as well as the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (6) that has an InnovFin guarantee, and the Emissions Trading System Innovation Fund (7) , all support the deployment of bio-based products complying with product quality requirements. Furthermore, the Commission proposal for the MFF 2021-2027 allocates EUR 10 billion to cluster 6 (Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment) in Horizon Europe, which will include funding for forestry research and innovation (R&I).
Member State authorities are primarily responsible for forest protection, including enforcing relevant EU legislation (8) , the implementation of which the Commission oversees. On forestry activities, the Commission has taken action against Poland, which was condemned by the EU Court of Justice in 2018, and launched infringement procedures against Slovakia and Romania.
(1) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7–50, Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds, OJ L 20, 26.1.2010, p. 7–25.
(2) COM (2020)380 of 20.5.2020.
(8) For example: Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market (OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23) and, where relevant, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7–50.
Question for written answer E-001797/2020 to the Commission
Robert Hajšel, Monika Be?ová
Subject: EU Forest Strategy
The role of forests in tackling climate change is often neglected. Their primary role is too often regarded as that of a feedstock for energy production – replacing coal and gas. However, forest management is crucial to reduce the amount of carbon in the air and the new EU Forest Strategy should address this, as a primary issue, together with the need to increase forests in Europe. Indeed, the Commission’s acknowledgement that ‘the EU’s forested area needs to improve, both in quality and quantity, for the EU to reach climate neutrality and a healthy environment’ needs to be translated into concrete measures.
1. What measures would the Commission envisage to protect old-growth forests and encourage the restoration of ecosystems in an effort to tackle climate change?
2. Does the Commission intend to increase the amount of financial resources available for industries working to replace energy-intensive products such as steel and concrete with high-quality wood?
3. What measures should the EU adopt to put a stop to the profit-driven excessive deforestation taking place in some regions of the EU?