As forests are essential for fighting climate change, MEPs to ensure that EU countries keep them healthy. Check out our infographics to learn more.
Forests play a crucial role in maintaining our ecosystem, for example by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming. Parliament is currently looking at plans to make every EU country compensate for emissions caused by deforestation. The environment committee approved the plans on 11 July and all MEPs will now vote on it during the plenary session in September. Without the Parliament's consent, the proposals will not be able to enter into force. Read on to find out more about why forests are so important and what Parliament is proposing to offset CO2 emissions caused by deforestation.
Forests in the EU
The EU boasts 182 million hectares of forest, covering 43% of its land area. Forest coverage can vary considerably from one member state to another. In fact just seven countries account for more than 70% of the EU's forested areas: Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden.
Why forests are important
Forests provide numerous ecosystem services: they help to protect the soil from erosion, form part of the water cycle, protect biodiversity by providing a habitat for numerous species, and regulate the local climate. Healthy forests are also crucial for fighting global climate change, because they capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The impact of deforestation
Sometimes forest land is converted into agricultural land, which leads to more greenhouse gases being emitted and less CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. Currently forests in the EU absorb the equivalent of 10.9 of total greenhouse gas emission each year.
What MEPs want to do about it
MEPs want to prevent emissions produced as a result of deforestation. This is why they want to oblige every EU country to compensate for changes in land use by better managing or increasing their forest cover.
EU efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The proposal to deal with the effects of land change on forests is one of three proposals to help honour the EU's commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 40% in all economic sectors by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
The other two proposals concern a revision of the EU's emission trading system, which covers emissions from the industry, and the Effort Sharing regulation, which covers sectors not covered by the emission trading system, such as transport, agriculture, buildings and waste management.