The strategy, which the Commission will adopt later this year, will build on the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, cover the whole forest cycle and promote the many services that forests provide. The strategy will also be aimed at ensuring healthy and resilient forests that contribute significantly to biodiversity and climate goals, reduce and respond to natural disasters, secure livelihoods and support a circular bioeconomy and rural communities.
The strategy will further help the EU to meet its international commitments and will form the basis of a clearly established, consistent and holistic approach on forests, allowing stronger EU leadership internationally, in the context of the United Nations’ 2030 sustainability agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said:
To reach climate neutrality and reverse biodiversity loss, we need to protect and restore forests everywhere, including in the EU. Healthy forests are crucial for our wellbeing. They stock carbon and remove it from the atmosphere, and they provide food, medicines, materials and space for recreation. Our forests now are in a dire state and we must take urgent action to reverse the decline.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
We want the Forest Strategy to be a real game changer in the way we protect, manage and grow our forests, for our planet, people and the economy. By acting at home, we also want to lead by example for the rest of the world. Our forests are suffering at a time when we need them the most. They are a big part of the solution to many of the challenges we face in tackling climate and biodiversity crises, and can strongly contribute to a sustainable recovery.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski added:
I am pleased that we launched this new public consultation. Forests and their managers are fundamental contributors in pursuing climate neutrality, securing rural areas and building a resilient EU. Therefore this is an opportunity for all stakeholders, Member States, forest owners and managers, rural dwellers and citizens to provide their views on how our forests, sustainably managed, can contribute to our commitment to the European Green Deal.
The consultation seeks to gather the views of citizens, institutions and organisations from the public and private sectors on how to overcome the challenges forests face, in particular in relation to climate change, biodiversity loss, their role in rural areas, socio‑economic welfare, and disaster risk management. It also looks into how to mobilise EU support instruments, forest monitoring, forest-based industries, and its target of planting 3 billion trees by 2030 while ensuring the EU’s global leadership.
The consultation focuses on the EU territory, thereby complementing the results of the Eurobarometer survey on the current role and benefits of the EU’s forests and the activities set out in the Communication on Stepping up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests.
Citizens and organisations are invited to share their views on the potential objectives and actions of the new EU Forest Strategy until 19 April 2021.
Other related public consultations are taking place in parallel: on ‘nature restoration targets’, ‘Land Use, Land‑use Change and Forestry — review of EU rules’ and the new EU Soil Strategy.
Forests are hugely important for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, water regulation, the provision of food, medicines and materials, disaster risk reduction and control, soil stabilisation and erosion control, air and water purification, and finally as a natural home for recreation and learning.
The EU’s forest area and other wooded land has been growing in the last decades and covers about 45% of EU land. However, forest ecosystems are under increasing pressure as a result of climate change, which aggravates other key drivers of pressures such as pests, diseases, extreme weather events and forest fires. Other pressures come from rural abandonment, lack of management and fragmentation due to land use changes, increasing management intensity due to rising demand for wood, forest products and energy, infrastructure development, urbanisation and land take. Unsustainable practices should be prevented or corrected.
Forests and the forest-based sector should contribute to a modern, climate neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy, preserve lively rural areas and help maintain wealthy rural populations, and preserve landscapes, culture and heritage. The Common Agricultural Policy plays a key role in this. Securing the health and the resilience of existing and new forests is crucial for their effective support to all these environmental, social and economic functions and services.
In May 2020, the Commission published a Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, with the aim to put EU biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030. One of its core commitments is to propose, in 2021, a new Forest Strategy.
- Publication date
- Directorate-General for Environment