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 Full text 
Tuesday, 6 October 2020 - Brussels Provisional edition

The European Forest Strategy - The Way Forward (debate)

  Petri Sarvamaa, rapporteur. – Mr President, first, just a couple of words to set the stage. We already have a biodiversity strategy from the Commission. Now, here today we are talking about the EU forest strategy. Having said that, I would now like to explain to this Chamber how a balanced forest strategy should and could be built for us.

Forests and the forest-based sector have a crucial role to play in achieving the Union’s climate, environmental and biodiversity goals, namely within the Green Deal. The enhancement of biodiversity, the fight against climate change and the transitions to a circular bioeconomy and to a fossil-free society will never be possible without multifunctional, healthy, and sustainably managed forests. The Commission will publish its new forest strategy during the first quarter of 2021. The previous strategy was published in 2013, so a new one is now needed for the post-2020 period.

We need an ambitious and self-standing EU forest strategy. It should highlight a balanced approach between the economic, ecological and social sustainability of forests to ensure the continuity of the multifunctional role of forests in the European Union. The new EU forest strategy should act as an effective coordination tool between the various EU forest-related policies, taking into account the whole forest-based value chain. Forests and the forest-based value chain offer crucial climate benefits, such as the promotion of carbon sequestration, the storage of carbon in wood-based products, and the substitution of fossil-based raw materials and energy. In addition, it is crucial to ensure appropriate measures to prevent natural disasters such as bark beetle epidemics, droughts and forest fires.

The own initiative report to be voted on today and tomorrow is a balanced one, and the positions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) were taken into account in the negotiations. The report addresses the importance of enhancing forest biodiversity; just to mention, the word ‘biodiversity’ is mentioned 39 times in this report. The report points out that healthy and resilient forests are a precondition for the general well-being of our forests, as well as for their economic and social sustainability. It also addresses afforestation and reforestation as suitable tools in enhancing forest cover.

The report calls for the protection of primary forests. Yes indeed, it does, contrary to some of the claims that the members of this Chamber have received. And it calls on the Commission to introduce a definition for old-growth forests. It also emphasises the important role of sustainable forest management and bioeconomy at a time when forests are playing a key role in offering sustainable solutions to the challenges of our time. Lastly, the report notes that the jobs within the sector are dependent on resilient and well-managed forest ecosystems in the long term.

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