The European Commission has adopted an official communication detailing a comprehensive framework for future EU forest preservation measures.
Forests and woodland are responsible for 80% of the world’s land-based biodiversity and cumulatively support the employment of around 25% of the global population. The communication on EU forest preservation details the bloc’s commitment to mitigate the impact of deforestation, which has caused the loss of 1.3 million square kilometres of forested land between 1990 and 2016; and which accounts for between 5% and 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for the EU’s sustainable development, said: “Forests are the green lungs of our planet; and we must care for them in the same way we care for our own lungs. We will not meet our climate targets without protecting the world’s forests. The EU does not host the world’s major primary forests on its territory, but our actions as individuals and our policy choices have a major impact. Today we send an important signal to our citizens and to our partners around the world that the EU is prepared to play a leadership role in this area in the next five years and beyond.”
Commissioner for International Development Neven Mimica said: “We stand ready to work with partner countries to protect and sustainably manage forests across the world. This is about food security, water, climate change, resilience and peace. It’s about building a more sustainable and inclusive world.”
The Commission outlined five priorities in its mission to ‘protect and restore’ forests around the world:
- Reducing the impact of EU consumption and promoting the use of deforestation-free supply chains across Member States;
- Engaging with countries which import to Member States to discourage production which relies on deforestation;
- Boost international co-operation with EU forest preservation initiatives;
- Allocate finance towards sustainable land use practices; and
- Support research, innovation and education on the importance and conservation of forests.
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: “The world’s forest cover continues to decrease at an alarming rate. With this communication, we are stepping up EU action to protect existing forests better and manage forests sustainably. When we protect existing forests and increase forest cover sustainably, we safeguard livelihoods and increase the income of local communities. Forests also represent a promising green economic sector, with the potential to create between 10 and 16 million decent jobs worldwide. This communication represents an important step forward in this regard.”
Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “Stronger and more effective European action is needed to protect and restore forests because the situation remains fragile, despite efforts already made. Deforestation has a destructive effect on biodiversity, climate and economy.”