What does the EU policy framework offer for the provision of forest ecosystem services?
On 7 December 2020, SINCERE project and Integrate Network organised an online event to debate what does the EU policy framework offer for the provision of forest ecosystem services. The speakers of the webinar covered a broad spectrum of stakeholders with representatives of the European Commission, forest sector stakeholders, national ministry and environmental NGO. CEPF was invited to present European forest owners’ views on how current EU policy framework supports the provision of forest ecosystem services (FES) in the ground and how the support should be improved.

CEPF Secretary General, Fanny-Pomme Langue, noted that while several EU policies and programs support the provision of forest ecosystem services, payments for forest owners for providing services other than timber have not been much developed at the EU level. For example, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 set a target to protect 30% of EU land but it does not evaluate what are the implementing costs for forest owners nor provide any concrete plan on compensation. Thus, there is a need for a thorough evaluation of the costs for forest owners for providing FES, called Ms Langue, and added, that that such payment mechanisms should in all cases be based on a voluntary basis with a bottom-up approach.

The main debate of the webinar focused on the integrated vs segregated forest management. Ms Langue underlined the need for integrated approach which ensures that forests can provide all the ecosystem services in a balanced way. However, it seems that such approach is not endorsed for the time being when looking into EU policies such as the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the key objectives set for the new EU Forest Strategy which endorse protection, restoration, afforestation, and preservation. This segregated approach could make forests more vulnerable to natural disturbances and may limit the provision of ecosystem services in a balanced way, Ms Langue explained. Forests should be supported to provide all their benefits and the way to ensure this is via sustainable forest management and its holistic and multifunctional view considering all three pillars of sustainability.

In the end of the webinar, the speakers were asked to share their Christmas wishes for the upcoming EU Forest Strategy. As Christmas wishes of European forest owners, Ms Langue asked for a proper evaluation of the work needed to provide FES, evaluation of the budget needed to reward forest owners for this work and evaluation of the impacts of the requirements related to the provision of FES.

Read more:

SINCERE event report

EFI resilience blog post

Recording of the webinar: