The main topics that were addressed included the challenge of fragmented forest ownership; climate change and problems with insects, pests and forest fires; the challenging wood market situation, with a few large and dominating industries; and a lack of coordinated research for the forestry sector.
CAP President João Cyrillo Machado emphasised the susceptibility of Portuguese forests to climate change and the devastating problems of forest fires facing the many small-scale forest owners of Portugal. “The government does not pay enough attention and support to fire prevention, where forest owners are crucial. There is no protection or reimbursement for the forest owners”, he underlined.
Luis Dias, CAP Vice-President and Member of the CEPF Board, highlighted the importance of the forestry measures in the Rural Development Program: “the forestry measures are important, but there is a need to improve the uptake of available funds. We are seeing a declining margin for forest owners and we need to improve the economic viability of the holdings”.
Several EU policies increasingly touch upon all the items that were discussed and Hubert de Schorlemer welcomed the active support of CAP to CEPF’s activities at EU level: “The support of CAP to CEPF is crucial for our activities at the EU level, bringing forward the issues of Portuguese forest owners and southern forests, and connecting them to the EU agenda”.
CAP is one of 23 members of CEPF. Approximately 38% of Portugal’s land area is covered with forests, of which more than 85% is privately owned. CAP, the Portuguese farmers’ confederation, is a socio-professional organisation which regroups more than three hundred organisations spread over the whole country, such as Federations, Regional Associations, as well as specialised associations for the different agricultural and forestry sectors, and even some cooperatives. In the forestry realm they are the umbrella organisation of 32 forest owners’ associations and 3 national forest federations.