EU ministers discuss implementation of Forest Strategy

EU Environment and Energy Ministers meet to discuss the EU Forest Strategy for 2030 – Photo: Xose Bouzas/Hans Lucas

An informal meeting of EU environment and energy ministers will conclude today.

One main agenda item was defining policies for the forestry sector, which is crucial to the European Green Deal. The EU Forest Strategy for 2030, adopted in July 2021, calls for old-growth forests to be protected and three billion trees to be planted by 2030. To compensate for the ensuing economic losses in the forestry sector, the strategy promotes ecotourism and the sustainable use of wood-based bioenergy.

Many EU countries have condemned the Forest Strategy for its lack of consideration for economic interests of member states. Sweden—which provides ten percent of the world’s sawn timber and pulp and paper—complained that the strategy conflicts with member states’ self-determination, while Austria’s Forest Minister declared that forests are economic resources as well as carbon sinks.

Going forward, expect some member states to reject the legally binding Strategy until it accounts for individualism before centralization. To gain adherence from important nations such as Germany, the Strategy will likely be revised to complement existing national forestry policies instead of overriding them. Although the Strategy will likely continue to prioritize environmental imperatives over short-sighted economic interests, revisions could promote non-wood forest industries, such as cork.

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