The purpose of the common European legally binding agreement on forests is to underline the importance of the role forests and sustainable forestry practices play in solving global challenges. The desire is to safeguard the availability of diverse forest-derived benefits also for future generations through this agreement.
The aim is to establish a framework for forest-associated national measures and international cooperation with the aid of this agreement. The hope is that it will streamline the processing of forest-related matters especially in the EU, where several different policies affect forest-associated decisions. The forest agreement will be legally binding for its signatory countries.
The intention is to adopt common forestry policy guidelines, but still retain national decision-making powers on forest management and utilisation issues. A further aim is to take different countries’ forest-related characteristics and national priorities into account in the agreement.
Harnessing forests to promote ecological, economic and social wellbeing
The purpose of the common forest agreement is to ensure that Europe’s forests are harnessed to promote wellbeing and sustainable development through their generation of economic, environmental and social benefits. The agreement should accordingly underline the possibilities forests create as part of the bioeconomy of the future. This is why the agreement must promote the operating prerequisites of the entire forest-based sector.
The production capacity and sustainable utilisation of forests must be safeguarded
Forest regeneration and the safeguarding of wood production capacity are central preconditions for sustainable forest utilisation. The agreement should therefore recognise wood production as an ecosystem service, which is as significant as other uses.
An essential consideration of sustainable forest utilisation is that timber is primarily processed into products, which are in turn recycled and used to generate energy only at the end of their lifecycle. Observing this so-called hierarchical utilisation model is the best way to continue storing carbon, which has been bound into growing wood in the forest, and thus curb climate change.
Broad front participating in forest agreement negotiations
More than 40 European countries, including all EU Member States, as well as the European Commission are taking part in the forest treaty talks. Russia’s participation in these negotiations is significant because some 80% of Europe’s forests are in its territory. Stakeholder groups also have the opportunity to participate in the meeting as observers. The Finnish Forest Industries Federation is contributing to these negotiations as part of the Finnish government delegation. The talks commenced in February 2012 and the goal is to conclude them by summer 2013.
Karoliina Niemi, Senior Adviser (Forestry), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6679, +358 50 567 9093