EU Forest Strategy Beefing Up

EU Forest Directors urged European Commission to release a Communication on New Forest Strategy without further delay. Lithuanian Presidency expressed its willingness to start discussions on this document as Working Party on Forestry immediately after its publication.
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Negotiations on a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe (LBA)
Lithuanian Presidency made a presentation on the preparations for Negotiations on a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe. Forest Directors and other participants of the meeting emphasized the essential importance of the LBA on Forests in Europe. The political importance of LBA was stressed and value added it creates was underlined. The preference to agree on such LBA, which enables to have all negotiating parties on board, was expressed.Majority of Forest Directors and other participants of the meeting reaffirmed a preference for FAO in relation to the institutional arrangement for the LBA. Some Member States expressed flexibility regarding institutional arrangement for the LBA in case it will be needed.General acceptance was expressed to follow political mandate from the Council and consistent position of the EU and its Member States during negotiation process. Proposal for a common EU and its Member States position, based on preference for FAO to adopt and host the LBA, will be further developed. The option when LBA is adopted by the Diplomatic Conference will be explored further as well. It was noted that all possible options in relation to the adoption and administration of the LBA, which could lead to a successful completion of the negotiations during resumed IN-Forests4 in Geneva, will be considered.

 

Forestry measures under the new Rural Development Regulation

Following the presentation by the Commission, Forest Directors and other participants of the meeting discussed implementation of forest related measured under current Rural Development programs. Positive influence of these measures to sustainable forest management was widely recognized, although, some obstacles related to administrative burden and relatively weak implementation of some forestry measures were noted. Possible forest related measures for a new financial period of 2014-2020 were also considered. Some concerns related to transitional period for financial support were raised. It was noted that new Rural Development Regulation creates good preconditions for development of forestry sector, via increasing variety of possible forest related measures, thus, contributing to the enhancement of sustainable forest management in the EU.

Forest Directors and other participants of the meeting agreed with the Commission that more could be done to increase the share of forest related measures in Rural Development plans and programs and welcomed the assistance offered by the Commission.

Sustainability Criteria for Solid Biomass Use

Most of participants of the meeting emphasized that there is no need to develop additional sustainability criteria for forest based biomass on EU level. Although, several Member States supported having sustainability criteria for solid biomass in principle.
It was underlined that new system of biomass sustainability criteria would possibly devalue the existing well developed and widely recognized system of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management, defined within Forest Europe process. Some concerns were raised that a new set of criteria could cause additional administrative burden and costs. In addition, concerns were raised regarding the proposals to broaden sustainability criteria for solid biomass that are not based on the same evidence or scientific analysis as in decisions on Indirect Land Use Change.

Representatives of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, European Commission, General Secretariat of the Council, CEPF and EUSTAFOR.

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