The mid-term review of the Forest Strategy should give greater consideration to the multi-dimensional importance of forests in climate policy, in the implementation of the Paris Agreement objectives in meeting the Aichi targets on biodiversity and in efforts to meet the UN SDGs so that sustainable management of forests is treated on a par with other measures aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.
Forestry activities and jobs are crucial to rural and sparsely populated regions but also boost economic growth in towns and cities and foster cooperation between rural and urban areas.
In the reform of the common agricultural policy, it is important to include tools that support the forest sector in rural areas.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
• The Forest Strategy is an effective tool for harmonising various policy areas and for reconciling the different perspectives of the Member States and their regions. Its role is also to highlight new objectives and measures which should be examined at EU level.
• For local and the various regional authorities, forests are an important element of economically, environmentally and socially sustainable development which for more than a century has been reflected in the framing and implementation of management plans, based on the principles of persistence, stability and sustainable yields of their many products, and on the application of robust forest legislation that supports and protects forests. They should therefore be consulted when the EU Forest Strategy is updated.
• Many initiatives have been developed to support the diversity of forests in the EU, such as the Natura 2000 network, the Birds and Habitats Directives, support for green infrastructure and the 2020 biodiversity strategy. Local and regional authorities are helping to implement them and they should be given more scope to contribute to the content of measures.
• In the reform of the common agricultural policy, it is important to include tools that support the forest sector in rural areas, such as those for the prevention of deforestation, for reforestation and for forest conversion, the planning and management of forests, support for forestation of marginal agricultural areas and for the introduction and renewal of agroforestry systems, the conservation of forests as an integral part of extensive livestock production systems as well as the promotion of entrepreneurship and training in the sector.
European forests protect biodiversity, maintain ecosystem services and store carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Today, around 10% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions are stored in forests. By pursuing a successful, long-term approach, depending on specific regional features, up to 90% of Europe's forests could be natural or semi-natural, hosting a wide range of species. Investing in a sustainable forest economy will continue to ensure more sustainable and healthier forests.