Project Consortium

     INTEGRAL Partners,  Cross-Project Meeting in Dublin 2014  INTEGRAL Consortium   The INTEGRAL consortium consists of 21 partners from 13 countries. Due to the inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary nature of the project, the team involves experts with different disciplinary backgrounds and research interests inter alia...

  • Project Consortium

  • Policy Briefs

  • INTEGRAL Newsletter Issue 10/2015

 Opinions from the NGO Perspective


 

The INTEGRAL project consortium can benefit from the experience and expert opinion of the European interest group organisations EUSTAFOR and CEPF (European State Forest Association and the Confederation of European Forest Owners) and the environmental NGO FERN (Stichting FERN).  They represent different stakeholders in Europe such as private and state forest owners and environmental groups.

 

In this section, we would like to give these organisations an opportunity to publish their positions on current forest-related topics in Europe.

(The views expressed in the articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the INTEGRAL consortium.)

 

 

 

 


INCREASING LAND USE CONFLICTS IN STATE FOREST MANAGEMENT AREAS - SHARED PROBLEMS, CONCEPTS AND EXPERIENCES FOR COPING STRATEGIES              __ logo eustafor

 

"The conflict concerning land use is nothing new. Conflicts emerge from the sometimes incompatible interests and needs of those who want to use the same resources or because there are different priorities and approaches to the management of these resources.  The challenge we are facing now is how to react to these conflicts in today’s world.  Forests and forestry, for obvious reasons, remain in the center of the discussions that address land use conflicts and their management. The EU’s FP7 project INTEGRAL, the objective of which is to provide a better understanding of forest management conflicts in Europe,offered a platform for one of these discussions.

 

In 2014, the open working group mandated by RIO+20 published a Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals.  Out of the 17 goals they propose, eight are directly related to land use. These goals include ending hunger, providing water, providing energy, promoting economic growth, combatting climate change and protecting ecosystems/biodiversity through sustainable agriculture and forest management.   

 

Land use conflicts and increasing pressure on forests have so far been seen as an issue of developing countries and, compared to other parts of the globe, Europe currently has reliable sustainable forest management. However, land use conflicts will increasingly become a European issue because Europe will also have to deal with increased global demands in the face of the world’s shrinking natural resources.

 

Land use conflicts are, in fact, human-induced conflicts emerging from disagreements and disputes over the control and use of land. Thus the solution for land use conflicts involves people (stakeholder) management. Unfortunately, the majority of stakeholders address sectoral interests but do not sufficiently address the problem of land use conflict.  Neither does such a sectoral approach meet global challenges such as poverty alleviation, climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and food production.

 

All this gives state forest managers a unique chance to take the lead by developing integrated land use strategies that will meet those challenges. They must take the opportunity to provide an optimal pathway to meet these challenges.

 

Although the EU has no regulatory competence concerning forestry matters, forestry keeps on cropping up in EU policy.  The rapid development of the EU climate and energy policies provides a good example to illustrate the problem. The new EU Forest Strategy has undertaken the challenge to find a balance between the emerging societal and other sectoral demands addressed to forests on the one hand, with the potential of European forests to provide a positive response to these demands on the other.

  

In the EU, Forestry touches also the economy by offering its primary product - woody biomass – as significant input of renewable, reusable and climate neutral raw material to build up the European bio-based economy. All this is in addition to the entire spectrum of multiple functions and benefits that are offered to the society at large. By doing so, European forests once again combine the conflicting interests of two sectors: economic development vs. environment.

 

Climate change is the biggest problem faced by the world today. It is a game changer on the policy agenda that can be used to redefine the roles of forests and forest biomass and their functions as a carbon sink and as a potential substitution for fossil fuels and other high energy-consuming products such as steel, concrete, etc. In discussions about climate mitigation, quantitative information is needed on how much carbon could be sequestrated by sustainably managed forests and how much CO2 can be stored for decades in harvested wood products.

 

The positive impact of actively managed forests on the development of down-stream industries and green employment is equally important. In Europe, forestry plays a significant role in the EU economy through its primary product – woody biomass – that is a renewable, reusable and climate neutral raw material. Woody biomass provides a valuable input to the European bio-based economy. All this is in addition to the entire spectrum of multiple functions and benefits that are offered to the society at large. Clearly European forests have once again proven their capacity to combine the conflicting interests of two sectors: economic development vs. environment.

 

State forests need to «sell» their obvious contribution to meeting all these challenges, demands and expectations.  Compared to non-managed forests, managed forests absorb significant quantities of CO2 in their annual increment. This dynamic takes place up until the moment they become old growth and start emitting more carbon than they sequester due to the decay of trees and the rotting process of wood.  State Forest management Organizations (SFMOs) should initiate a general awareness-raising campaign to explain to society that sustainably managed European forests cannot only mitigate climate change but can, in addition, create new jobs while securing existing employment. 

 

Many of our SFMOs are encountering the same types of land use conflicts.  They could therefore potentially apply similar strategies to manage them at operational (landscape) level. EUSTAFOR organized an Interactive Working Group for its members to discuss the increasing land use conflicts in state forest management areas and exchange views on shared problems, concepts and experiences with coping strategies. The results of this meeting are available at the section of our website dedicated to the INTEGRAL project (http://eustafor.eu/integral).

 

INTEGRAL’s interim results served as a basis for this exchange.  The project closely analyzed the conflicting behaviors over land uses at landscape level and aimed to provide a solution for an effective conflict management in forest management. To what extent INTEGRAL succeeded in this task one can judge from the lecture of the project outcomes and the Policy Paper elaborated in result of this project."

Piotr Borkowski

EUSTAFOR Executive Director 


 

 

EUSTAFOR’s 29 members (state forest organizations managing state forests) represent around one third of the EU forest area. They are committed to sustainable forest management and work with the existing forest certification schemes. The total harvest of EUSTAFOR members is over 123 million m3 of round timber per annum and together they employ more than 100 000 individuals. Contact: www.eustafor.eu
NEW EU FOREST STRATEGY: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STARTED THE DISCUSSIONS ON ITS OPINION REPORT                  __ pp17

 

"On 5 November 2014, the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) commenced for a public hearing on the new EU Forest Strategy, aimed at gaining insights from experts and hold discussions on relevant key issues. This provided the MEPs with essential information to draw-up a non-legislative report on the Commission communication “A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector”.

 

As the Commission published its communication on the new EU Forest Strategy already in September 2013, after European Council (EC), the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the European Parliament is the only remaining EU institution to develop and share its views on the Commission communication. Against the backdrop of growing demands on and threats to forests, as well as many EU sectorial policies and associated rules affecting forestry and forests, the new EU Forest Strategy is considered to be an important horizontal reference, providing a holistic framework for better coordination and coherence to all elements of forests and sustainable forest management, including socio-economic and environmental aspects.

 

While the new EU Forest Strategy was very much welcomed not only by representatives from the forest sector, but also by the Member States and environmental NGOs, a numbers of aspects have been reason for further discussions. This includes, for instance, the potential introduction of legally binding rules for prioritising the uses of wood, the compulsory integration of forest management plans with Natura 2000 management plans, and the development of new Sustainable Forest Management Criteria. Nevertheless, there is also great common understanding, that an effective and efficient implementation is needed to make the new EU Forest Strategy a success, ensuring the competitiveness and multifunctionality of the forest sector.

 

During the public hearing on 5 November 2014, the contribution of the forest sector to growth, jobs and rural well-being, the attractiveness of forest for the young people, the current and future changes in the forest industry and the potential to contribute to bioenonomy emerged as some of the more pressing questions by the Members of European Parliament (MEPs). Some MEPs also expressed their concerns in relation to the increasing competition for land use in Europe, the impact of environmental regulations on the competitiveness of the sector and the low public awareness on the importance of forests.

 

With the parliamentary timeline being set, the leading Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development is expected to discuss its draft opinion on 21 January 2015. The rapporteur responsible is the Austrian MEP Elisabeth Köstinger (EPP). MEP Ulrike Müller (ALDE, GER) and Maria Noichl (S&D, GER) support her as shadow rapporteurs in drafting the document. Based on the parliamentary rule 54, the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) shares the responsibility on three aspects, namely forests in a changing climate, protecting forests and enhancing ecosystem services, and forests from a global perspective. MEP Francesc Gambús (EPP) from Spain has been appointed as ENVI rapporteur and will be supported by the British MEP Paul Brannen (S&D) and the Finnish MEP Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). Lead by MEP Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR) from Poland, the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) is going to provide a support opinion. The respective voting for the ENVI and ITRE committee is scheduled for February 24, with the AGRI committee to follow one month later on 24 March 2015. Ultimately, the parliamentary process will be concluded with the voting of the plenary which still remains to be determined but is expected for April 2015."

Clemens von Doderer, CEPF Policy Advisor 


 

The Confederation of European Forest Owners is the umbrella organization for the 16 million private forest owners of Europe.

CEPF represents 23 national member organizations from across Europe and a number of other associated pan-European and global institutions. Through its extensive network, CEPF is able to disseminate information and knowledge not only to the community of European forest owners but also to EU institutions (including the Commission and Parliament) and other national and regional organizations.

 

CEPF supports the overall activities of the project and thus, especially dissemination and discussion of the project results at a broader European level (WP 4). Further, it will support the organization of a European conference, one session being specifically dedicated to stakeholders and policy makers.

 

Contact: http://www.cepf-eu.org/

 

NEW EUROPEAN COMMISSION: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES TO FOREST-RELATED POLICIES IN EUROPE? ___

 

“Despite the lack of concerted EU policy on European forests, many EU policies and laws developed by the European Commission (EC) have a significant impact on the EU’s forests, whether through the Rural Development Programme, the Renewable Energy Directive, the Water Framework Directive and the EU’s climate framework. The shake-up in the European Commission is therefore of prime interest for forests. So what are the main changes that will be of note in the 2014-2018 European Commission?

 

  1. Downgrading of the Environmental Dossier? Jean-Claude Juncker, who replaces José Manuel Barroso as the President of the European Commission (EC), chose jobs, growth and competitiveness as the big themes of his mandate. Fear that this focus will come at the expense of the environment grew when it was decided that, for the first time in 25 years, the Environment dossier would no longer have a dedicated commissioner, and that Climate issues would be merged with the Energy portfolio. Forests do however still fit under Juncker’s themes as they are an important source of rural jobs and Member States could therefore be encouraged to increase rural development funding that goes to them. It is important to remember though that any policy which sees forests as just an industry is likely to fail both environmentally and economically. Forests are a valuable ecosystem, and economic development must not come at the expense of forest health, biodiversity and recreation.
  2. Challenge to the Birds and Habitats Directive? Karmenu Vella, Commissioner-designate for the Environment will also have to manage fisheries and maritime affairs. He has been specifically asked to review the Birds and Habitats Directives, with a view to merging them. Rumours are already circulating that a high level decision has been made to weaken biodiversity protection in the EU. Any undermining of the Directives will have a direct impact on forests, which make up 50 percent of all Natura 2000 sites.
  3. Forests and Climate in Europe? Climate issues have now been placed within the Energy Directorate, and this could be seen positively as an opportunity to ensure proper carbon accounting of bioenergy. However, there are also risks that the push for EU energy security could lead to increased reliance on bioenergy, putting pressure on EU forests, even though the European Environment Agency considers 60 percent of them to be ‘degraded ecosystems’. The EU is also discussing whether and how forests (through Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)) should be included in the EU’s climate framework. Care must be taken to ensure that forests in the EU, which act as a sink of carbon, are not used as an excuse to weaken efforts to reduce emissions in other sectors. Forests have value far beyond their mitigation function, and healthy biodiverse forests have the best chance of surviving in a heated climate.”

 

Hannah Mowat, Forests and climate campaigner FERN


"FERN was created in 1995 to keep track of the European Union’s involvement in forests and coordinate NGO activities at the European level. Our work centres on forests and forest peoples’ rights in the policies and practices of the European Union. Current campaign goals include: improving forestry practice and conservation in Europe to halt biodiversity loss and protect important habitats; moving the climate debate beyond carbon trading towards reduced consumption and improved governance to reduce forest loss; EU trade and investment policies that do not subsidise climate change; ending the illegal timber trade in Europe and returning forest land to the ownership of local communities.


FERN’s main role is to ensure the Integral project is monitored and takes account of the political reality. FERN will also be using our well built contact lists to ensure the results of the project are widely disseminated."

 

Contact: http://www.fern.org/