CEETTAR Members support a new European Forest Strategy and propose 3 priorities

Preserve the existing situation, plan the forest of the future & the forestry industry, improve the governance framework

Forestry contractors make a significant contribution to the European economy, by creating jobs, by combating climate changes and achieving the commitment to have a green economy that ensures a healthy life in harmony with nature.

CEETTAR believes that the new European Forest Strategy should firstly improve competitiveness of the forest value chain. More competitive companies along the value chain automatically entails a higher sustainability of economic activities. Forests are also important for the viability of rural areas. By addressing the competitiveness of the sector, the strategy improves the living standards and the viability of rural areas.

Secondly, the EU forest strategy should be parallel to the EU biodiversity strategy and they should be complementary to each other. Forests are important for biodiversity conservation and it is clear that forestry has to assume not only the productive component but also the component associated with conservation, which will require the development of completely different and diverse forest models.

However, CEETTAR believes that the Green Deal and the new European Forest Strategy should focus on financing the forestry sector, from the creation of new forest areas to the use of wood in construction, with an emphasis on the sustainable management of Europe's forests. At the same time, the strategy should increase efforts made to improve the resilience of forests against various hazards. This is done in everyday work by taking care of sustainability (biodiversity, carbon sink and storage issues and quality of water) in harvesting. Some new business models will also go through the development of agroforestry, where the income will have an agricultural component associated with the forest yield.

Thirdly, forestry contractors contribute to a modern, climate neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy and they want to do more! CEETTAR welcomes the strategy support to new training, skills and jobs that reflects the multiple functions of forests. Taking care of knowledge and skills development of forestry contractors and their employees is the crucial factor in this.

What is CEETTAR asking for?

CEETTAR proposes three priorities for the new European Forest Strategy: preserve the existing situation, plan the forest of the future and the forestry industry and improve the governance framework.

-  PRESERVE THE EXISTING SITUATION: to nurture the forests that we have in Europe, the strategy should ensure the sustainable management of all EU forests, maximising the provision of their multiple functions while enhancing their productive capacity. In particular, the strategy should decrease the loss of forest coverage, preserve stocks and increase the EU carbon sinks in forests – in their soils and in harvested wood products. The Strategy should include the prevention of disaster risk events and of damages, secure forest resilience to natural hazards, while supporting the restoration of damaged areas and degraded ecosystems.

- PLAN THE FOREST of the FUTURE: the Strategy should foster afforestation and tree planting by setting out a roadmap for planting at least three billion additional trees in the EU by 2030, as announced in the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, in full respect of ecological principles, contributing to climate neutrality, bio-economy and biodiversity.

The Strategy should foster new training opportunities for the sector, to develop skills and offer jobs that reflects the multiple functions of the sector. Forestry activities will increasingly involve specialized personnel opening new opportunities for companies as long as they can keep up with this development. It should be couples with a strong research and innovation agenda.

-  IMPROVE THE GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORK: to manage the existing and the new forests it will be important to have a strong and inclusive governance framework engaging all relevant stakeholders. A stronger coordination between national forest policies and the European Green Deal’s objectives is necessary, together with a better monitoring of forests to demonstrate the effective contribution of sustainably managed forests to the EU objectives. Coordination also concerns financing instruments. It essential to ensure a consistent approach among different funding opportunities (CAP – which should not be considered as the only source of funding, Horizon Europe, Next Generation EU…) and launch innovative financial incentives, including payments for ecosystem services and result-based schemes (‘carbon farming’) for forest managers that provide public goods such as carbon sequestration.

Finally yet importantly, the sector contributes to rural development, by promoting local entrepreneurship and initiatives in relation with forests’ multiple functions. Therefore, the Forestry Strategy should be consistent with the new long-term vision for rural area.

In brief, the strategy will involve diversifying the landscape, associated with the creation of new industries and the development of new business models. In the future, the exploitation of large extensions with the same species will be limited. Efforts with afforestation and species management will be increasingly greater, as climate change tends to challenge the success of plantations. There will be a greater use of all products and services associated with the forest, with no place for waste. This strategy will force a greater demand for companies capable of providing technologically advanced services. The European Union can then rely on the benefit brought by forestry contractors towards an economic, social and environmental sustainable future.

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