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Vast majority supports European Parliament report on EU Forest Strategy

Following intense and controversial debates, especially in the Agricultural and Environmental Committees, the Plenary of the European Parliament adopted its non-legislative report on the new EU Forest Strategy on 28 April 2015.

With the European Parliament concluding its discussions, all European institutions have now provided their views on the Commission communication “A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector”. The Plenary sends out a strong message with 566 out of 677 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) supporting the report by MEP Elisabeth Köstinger (EPP, AUT) in Strasbourg on 28 April 2015.

The Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) welcomes the European Parliament’s initiative report and fully supports the key messages on sustainable forest management, the multifunctionality of Europe’s forests and the important role of Europe’s private forest owners.

In the late evening of Monday, 27 April 2015, the responsible rapporteur, MEP Elisabeth Köstinger (EPP, AUT), presented the compromise report to the Plenary, which initially was developed in the Agricultural Committee and also includes the views of the Environmental and the Industry Committees. In her statement she highlighted the ability of forestry and forests in providing answers for numerous challenges along all aspects of sustainability. Forests and the forest-based sector offer more than 3.5 million jobs, placing the sector in third place of all industries in the EU, and contribute around seven percent to Europe’s manufacturing GDP. Further, she called for better coordination at European level in line with the subsidiarity principle, while reducing red tape for forest owners and managers. She rejected any calls on legal obligations for the cascade use of forestry resources, on integrating Natura 2000 and Forest Management Plans, as well as on developing any product based sustainability criteria.

Supporting Köstinger’s remarks, shadow rapporteur MEP Ulrike Müller (ALDE, GER) emphasized the need for maintaining and strengthening the ownership rights. Adding to this, MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri (S&D, FIN) underlined the scope of forest biomass as a substitute for fossil fuels and its vital role in the context of the bioeconomy. MEP Paul Brannen (S&D, GBR) stressed three important aspects of forestry and forest biomass to be enhanced, namely tackling climate change, as around ten percent of carbon emissions are already sequestrated through EU’s forest cover, creating jobs and improving health. He ended, stating that “The man’s best friend is not the dog – the man’s best friend is the tree”.

The presentation of the new EU Forest Strategy was concluded by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan (IRE), who referred to the Commission’s long history of contributing through its policies to implementing sustainable forest management and to Member States’ decisions on forests and forestry in line with the principle of subsidiarity. “Addressing the issues of growth and jobs not only in forestry but across the entire forest sector, the EU Forest Strategy is very much in line with the political guidelines of the Juncker Commission”, Hogan added. Further he promised the Members of European Parliament to take full account of the Parliament report in implementing the proposed multi-annual implementation plan of the EU Forest Strategy, and to make sure that stakeholders will be fully involved in its implementation.

The press release can be downloaded here.