One year on from the adoption of the EU Regulation on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), experts convened by the European Commission have completed an assessment of Member States’ national forestry accounting plans to evaluate their compliance with the main principles and requirements set out in the Regulation.
The land use, land use change and forestry sector has the potential to provide long-term climate benefits, helping the EU achieve its emissions reduction target and Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. The sector also provides bio-materials that can substitute fossil- or carbon-intensive materials, which plays a vital role in the transition to a low greenhouse-gas-emitting economy.
To help achieve these goals, the LULUCF Regulation adopted in May 2018 sets a binding commitment for each Member State to ensure that accounted emissions from land use are at least compensated by an equivalent removal of CO₂ from the atmosphere through other action in the sector.
In order to estimate the impact of additional action in European forests on their ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, a forest reference level has to be established against which future removals will be accounted. The reference level estimates future baseline removals by forests by projecting past forest management practice.
Member States were to submit to the Commission their national forestry accounting plans, including a proposed forest reference level for the period from 2021 to 2025, by 31 December 2018. As of 22 May 2019, 27 Member States have submitted their plans.
Following the process set out in the Regulation, the Commission established an expert group including representatives from Member States, technical specialists, NGOs and research organisations, representatives of Norway, Iceland and the EFTA Surveillance Authority, and observers from various interested stakeholder groups to assess the plans.
Following meetings in Brussels on 6 February and during 1 April to 12 April 2019, the expert group adopted its synthesis report conclusions on the national plans.
Further information on the group’s work is available in the Register of Commission Expert Groups.
The technical assessment process and the conclusions of the expert group serve as a basis for the formulation of technical recommendations for improving the national plans. These recommendations are to be published by the Commission in the upcoming months.
Member States will submit to the Commission their revised forest reference levels based on the synthesis report conclusions and technical recommendations by 31 December 2019.