Promoting the sustainability of European forests since 1996 – CEPF’s members gather in Paris for 20-year anniversary
Europe’s private forest owners gathered at the CEPF General Assembly in Paris on 1-2 June 2016 to celebrate 20 years of cooperation at European level. Actual cooperation roots back to the 1960s and nowadays the organisation has 22 members in 19 different countries. Forest owners’ message to EU policy-makers was clear: European forests are manged with the highest sustainability standards in the world and this needs to be recognised and promoted – not hampered by additional criteria for solid biomass that creates new burdens.

As a part of the new Renewable Energy Package to be published by the end of the year, the Commission is developing a sustainability policy for solid biomass. In this context the sustainability of forest biomass was on the agenda in Paris. Various representatives of the EU Member States, e.g. Finland, Estonia, France and Germany, participated in a debate with the private forest owners.

Once again, the forest owners highlighted the fact that forest biomass for energy is not managed differently from forest biomass for other products, and sustainable forest management must therefore be considered in a holistic, bottom-up manner and cannot be regulated on a product-by-product basis.

Wood as a renewable raw material is the basis for green growth and we have to showcase how we have implemented sustainable management of our forests. While producing high-value timber and biomass, we respect and maintain the biodiversity and, last but not least, create jobs directly to the rural areas and indirectly to the cities via e.g. the construction sector, said Hubert de Schorlemer, President of CEPF.  

Consequently, the members of CEPF questioned the need for new sustainability criteria for biomass for energy, as criteria for sustainable forest management already since years are defined and developed under the Pan-European process FOREST EUROPE, and included in the national forest legislations.

Highly critical policies are being discussed and created at EU level. Fransylva represents 3.5 million forest owners who take care of approximately 12 million hectares of land in France. It is very important that the voice of the forest owners is being heard in Brussels, continued Antoine d’Amécourt, President of Fransylva.

The CEPF General Assembly was hosted by Fransylva, the umbrella organisation for French private forest owners. At the end of the event, the CEPF members visited three sites of wood construction in Paris and learned about the challenges of moving back from the conventional building with steel and concrete to what the city used to look like, with more wooden buildings. One of the examples showcased a student housing building, where the CO2 footprint had been reduced with almost half by using sustainable and climate friendly wood materials in the construction.

CEPF extends its warmest gratitude to the hosts from Fransylva,Antoine d’Amécourt, President, Olivier Bertrand, Vice-President, and Luc Bouvarel, Secretary General, for organising and hosting an excellent General Assembly and 20th anniversary celebration of CEPF.

As part of the formal procedures, the CEPF General Assembly unanimously re-elected Philipp zu Guttenberg(ADGW, Germany), Olivier Bertrand (Fransylva, France), Sven-Erik Hammar (LRF, Sweden), Hubert de Schorlemer (Family Forestry Luxembourg), Zdenko Bogovic (CUPFOA,Croatia) and Luis Dias (CAP, Portugal) as Board members for the period 2016-2018. Hubert de Schorlemer was unanimously re-elected to continue as the CEPF President for the coming two years. Furthermore, the General Assembly welcomed the Institut Agrícola Català de Sant Isidre as new associated members of CEPF, strengthening the European family forestry network in the south.