Report of the ad-hoc working group on SFM criteria and indicators endorsed
The ad-hoc working group on SFM criteria and indicators, established under the EU Forest Strategy, has commenced its work after six meetings during one years time. The final report was adopted by the Commission in July and endorsed by the Standing Forestry Committee at its last meeting on 18 September.

The report is now publically available and will feed in to the discussions on biomass sustainability.

The working group consisted of Member States, the European Commission and stakeholders. Private forest owners were represented by Janne Näräkkä from MTK, Finland. The report describes systems in place today to ensure SFM, for instance through national and regional legislation and the FOREST EUROPE criteria and indicators. The most relevant conclusions from the report are:

  • Member States have in place comprehensive systems to ensure that SFM is achieved in practice;
  • Through Forest Europe all have adopted a common definition of SFM and a common set of C&I for SFM;
  • National legislation and its implementation and monitoring, together with complementing soft law mechanisms such as best practice guidelines and certification, is the best way to ensure SFM practices;
  • National level is the most appropriate level to demonstrate SFM, which can be in some cases complemented by regional level demonstration;
  • No new legislation is needed. Most members of the WG were against a new legislation in forestry related areas, particular when addressing the demonstration of sustainability;
  • Risk-based approach – where the demand for more detailed verification increases hand in hand with the increased risk of unsustainable forest management practices – was seen as a suitable approach whenever any further actions to demonstrate sustainability are considered. Mechanisms to assess the risk should refer to the existence and enforcement of existing legal frameworks. This approach would accommodate material received from third countries as well as from within the EU.

The WG aimed at providing policy responses to the concerns expressed especially in relation to biomass imports. However, the group focused at the end on the EU situation and EU forest strategy 2020 targets in particular. According to the report, further work regarding the sustainability of biomass imports is needed.

CEPF welcomes the report as an important basis for further deliberations on a future EU biomass policy.