Sustainability in action when CEPF members gather for General Assembly
Europe’s private forest owners gathered for the 2017 CEPF General Assembly in Stockholm to discuss current EU policy developments and future actions of CEPF.

On 19-21 June, the 2017 CEPF General Assembly was held at Sånga Säby outside Stockholm, the very birth place of Swedish CEPF member LRF 100 years ago. CEPF gathers 23 members from 19 European countries under its “family forestry umbrella”. During the two-day full program, the CEPF members discussed current forest-related EU policies and future challenges and opportunities for the European forest owners.

Opening the General Assembly, CEPF President Hubert de Schorlemer stressed that “in times when the European private forest owners are confronted with numerous highly relevant and critical forest-related policy developments, strong forest owner cooperation and proper representation in Brussels is crucially needed, maybe now more than ever. Europe is going through a period of change and uncertainty, especially following the decision of the UK to leave the EU, and we need to be involved in the formation of the future EU.”

On behalf of the host, LRF Vice-President Sven Erik Hammar highlighted that “our long tradition of sustainable family forestry is a success story that we should be proud of and that we should tell society about.” He reiterated the importance of CEPF’s core principles: promoting sustainable and multifunctional forest management, securing private ownership rights and ensuring an economically viable forest sector.

Some of the main policy topics discussed during the two days were the proposed sustainability criteria of the Recast of the Renewable Energy Directive, Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the EU Nature Directives.

The Road to Bioeconomy

The great potential of the bioeconomy as a key concept to respond to challenges of jobs, growth and climate change was discussed in a lively panel debate, moderated by Markus Larsson (Head of Climate and Environment program, Fores). Elisabeth Backteman (State Secretary to Minister for Rural Affairs of Sweden) told the CEPF members about the recently adopted Swedish climate bill setting out the target for Sweden to become climate neutral by 2045. She stressed that an increased use of our renewable resources is a necessity to reach the target and meet the major challenge of climate change.

An example of bioeconomy in practise was given by Lars Winter (CEO Domsjö, vice president Processum) who produce wood-based textiles, replacing cotton and synthetic materials that release micro-plastics into the environment. He reminded that forests are a renewable and growing asset and whatever can be made from oil, can also be made from wood.

Marco Lucisano (vice president Papermaking & Packaging, RISE Bioeconomy) presented the results of the study ‘A Cellulose-Based Society’ and stressed the knowledge gap in society when it comes to bioeconomy. He advocated for a demonstration society – “in a very transparent way we need to explain what we have to do and why”.

The panel discussion was moderated by Markus Larsson. Elisabeth Backtemann, Lars Winter and Marco Lucisano participated as a panelists.

Visit to a Swedish forest owner

The CEPF General Assembly 2017 was hosted by LRF Skogsägarna, The Federation of Swedish Family Forest Owners. The CEPF members visited a Swedish forest owner and the regional forest owner association Mellanskog, where they were introduced to private forest ownership in Sweden. There are approximately 330,000 family forest owners in Sweden. The Federation of Swedish Family Forest Owners gathers Sweden’s four regional associations, which are organized as producers' cooperatives, owned and managed by the members of each association.

CEPF elects new Board member

As part of the formal procedures, the CEPF General Assembly unanimously re-elected Felix Montecuccoli (Land & Forst Betriebe Österreich, Austria), Juha Marttila (MTK, Finland), Arnis Muiznieks (MIB, Latvia) and Michael Podstatzky-Lichtenstein (SVOL, Czech Republic) as Board members for the period 2017-2019. A new board member, António Cabral da Silveira Gonçalves Ferreira (CAP, Portugal), was elected for the same period. Mr Gonçalves Ferreira is the president of the Portuguese Union of Mediterranean Forest Owners, and since May 2017 he is vice-president and member of the executive board of CAP. The CEPF President and the GA participants welcomed Mr Gonçalves Ferreira and thanked Luis Dias (CAP, Portugal), who stepped down from his Board position, for his valuable contribution and commitment to CEPF during the last years.

CEPF Board 2017-2019. Felix Montecuccoli (Austria) and António Cabral da Silveira Gonçalves Ferreira (Portugal) are missing from the picture.

CEPF extends its warmest gratitude to the hosts from LRF, The President of LRF Skogsägarna Sven Erik Hammar and Lennart Ackzell, for organising and hosting an excellent General Assembly.