There has been a lively discussion about the strategy in Finland in advance.
In Finland The EU’s much-anticipated new forestry strategy does not transfer decision-making power from forests to Brussels, but Member States continue to decide on their own forest policy.
This is the reassurance of the EU Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius.
The European Commission is today announcing its forestry strategy, which has already sparked a lively debate in Finland. HS will follow the event live.
“We don’t want member states to think that now Brussels is attacking member states’ competencies or telling how forests should be managed, ”Sinkevičius said in an interview with European media before the forest strategy was announced on Friday.
Sinkevičius some of the actions proposed in the strategy are carried out jointly with the member states and some are entirely within the competence of the member states.
“I say this clearly now: the EU Forest Strategy is not a common EU forest policy. It is a series of coordinated and coherent actions that will be implemented in a way that respects the principle of subsidiarity. “
The principle of subsidiarity or subsidiarity in the EU means that only matters that cannot be regulated in the Member States are regulated at Union level. In matters of forests, the member states have competence, but on the other hand, the EU influences the member states and also their forests with its climate and environmental legislation.
The leaked drafts of the Commission’s forestry strategy have provoked a great deal of concern and concern in Finland. The published version is milder than the drafts, which may be due to last-minute pressure from the forest Member States towards the Commission.
According to Sinkevičius, in the final stage, the Commission made changes to, among other things, the description of the economic role of forests and clarified the wording of the strategy as to what falls within the competence of the member states.
Commission justifies a separate forest strategy on the importance of forests in the fight against climate change. Forests act as carbon sinks and reduce the effects of climate change by, among other things, cooling cities and preventing erosion, drought and floods.
The strategy seeks to protect old-growth forests and restore poorly maintained forests. The strategy encourages forest management in a way that protects the climate and biodiversity.
The forest strategy is derived from the EU’s biodiversity strategy, so it has a strong perspective on biodiversity and forest protection. Finland has also wanted to emphasize the importance of forests from an economic and social point of view.
The Forest Strategy is not binding legislation, but it guides EU forest-related legislative projects.
The strategy includes a legislative proposal in which the EU wants to establish common rules for what data is collected on forests and forest growth. This would improve the comparability of data and provide a better picture of the state of EU forests, as the Commission does not have such aggregated data.
“Not everything is good in our forests, and many forest-related concerns and challenges transcend national borders. That is why forests need to be looked at at EU level, ”says Sinkevičius.
From member countries a plan or outlook on the state of the forest is required, but the plans are not submitted to the Commission for approval.
According to Sinkevičius, both the quantity and quality of forests in the EU must be increased.
According to the Commissioner, one of the goals of the forest strategy is to restore forest ecosystems. According to him, the sustainability of forests is increased if there are several tree species and the trees are of different ages.
The Commission calls on Member States to set up support schemes for forest owners who want to protect their forests. One example is Metso in use in Finland.
As a follow-up to the forest strategy, the EU is working to create commonly agreed concepts, such as how to define an old-growth forest and what close-to-nature forest management means. According to Sinkevičius, the definitions also require the views of Finnish experts.
In Finland, close-to-nature forestry, which has raised questions, will be defined at the EU level in the first half of 2022. The timetable for defining the criteria for sustainable forest management is 2023.
If there is a consensus on closeness to nature, a quality label may be modified for the wood thus taken from the forest.
In the forest strategy urges Member States to move to more sustainable forest management methods and to avoid methods that reduce carbon sinks.
In an earlier draft, clear-cutting was mentioned as an example of methods that should be avoided. In a more recent draft, the entry has been relaxed so that open felling is called for to be considered prudently and should be justified.
There are about 16 million private forest owners in the EU. According to Sinkevičius, they and the perspective of economic life have also been taken into account in the forest strategy.
According to the Commission, forestry accounts for around 3.6 million jobs and a turnover of around € 640 billion in the EU.
“We all need to be involved. The aim is to increase sustainable forestry so that it works in line with EU biodiversity and climate measures, ”says Sinkevičius.
The Commission would like to see more “innovative products” and a shift from short-lived to longer-lived products. More wood should be used in the construction industry. The use of forest biomass for renewable energy should be sustainable.
Forest strategy associated with the fact that the EU wants to plant at least three billion trees in Europe in the next few years in this decade. This campaign, which will start in October, is intended to be a project that will inspire citizens and grassroots actors, Sinkevičius says.
At the government level, Finland sought to strongly influence the content of the forest strategy. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä (Central) sent to the Vice-President of the European Commission To Frans Timmermans a statement criticizing the forest strategy, which strongly criticized the preparation of the strategy.
Finnish lobbying attempts infuriated the Greens. The President of the Greens Maria Ohisalon considers that the center and the sdp lobbied at EU level for objectives that are not in line with the government program.
Other countries, including Poland, also wrote to the Commission.
A number of Finnish MEPs also sent an open letter on forest policy. The letter was mainly addressed to the Finnish government, whose unity in forest matters was concerned by MEPs.
“It is of great importance that a unified message is sent from the government to EU decision-making, supported by the most unified parliamentary position possible,” the group of nine MEPs wrote.
One of MEPs’ concerns was that the Commission’s proposals would slow down the replacement of fossil materials with products based on renewable wood-based raw materials.
Previously this week, in connection with the announcement of the major climate package, the commission presented, among other things, an update to the lulucf regulation on land use and forestry, which defines the method for calculating carbon sinks.
The Commission has proposed a reform of the calculation method for forest carbon sinks and the abandonment of the reference level model, which has been criticized as complex.
For EU countries, the Commission has proposed a common goal that by 2030, EU carbon sinks should be equivalent to 310 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
According to the Commission, Finland’s share of the EU’s carbon sinks should be about 17.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030. The carbon dioxide equivalent is roughly defined as a unit of measurement describing the climate impact of greenhouse gases.