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EU forestry, paper and agri-sectors call for a dynamic LULUCF forest reference level  

The Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament today adopted the draft report of the Committee’s Rapporteur, MEP Norbert Lins, on the regulation of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) by voting in favour of a compromise to compare forest management intensity in 2020-2030 to the historical period of 2000-2012. The approach of comparing future forest use to historical management intensity has however been heavily criticized by the forest and agricultural sectors.

We should not penalize countries that did not use the full sustainable potential of their forests in the past. Member States should be able to use their growing forests for developing a fossil-free bioeconomy and forest owners should be enabled to continue investing in sustainable forest management – the best long-term strategy to maintain the carbon sink and ensure the climate benefits of forests, said Emma Berglund, Secretary General of the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF).

The Environment Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament adopted earlier today the draft report of the Committee’s Rapporteur, MEP Norbert Lins, on the regulation of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). The policy is of critical importance for the forest and agricultural sectors as it defines the climate benefits of forest management and the use of wood.

However, the approach of comparing future forest use to historical management intensity has been heavily criticized by the umbrella organizations of the forest, paper and agricultural sectors in Brussels.

In a joint statement, representatives from the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR), European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperatives (Copa and Cogeca), Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois) acknowledged the efforts made by the EP committee but point out that “substantial work” is still needed to improve the proposal.

Forest resources are growing in Europe and we should promote the use of sustainably-sourced wood from European forests to reach the climate and energy targets and to develop a sustainable bioeconomy. In fact, the EU Forest Strategy calls for management, growth and the use of forests, and this goes far beyond just considering them as a carbon stock, said Piotr Borkowski, Executive Director of EUSTAFOR.

A key element of the regulation is how to account for emissions and removals from forests. As a part of the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, the European Commission (EC) proposed new EU LULUCF accounting rules for forests using a “Forest Reference Level” based on historical (1990-2009) management practices and intensity. ENVI has now decided to continue this historical approach by voting in favour of a compromise to compare forest management intensity in 2020-2030 to the historical period of 2000-2012.

We seriously regret the vote in the Environment Committee. It is a loss for the rural community’s growth and jobs and the climate. Countries are suffering more and more from extreme weather events and forest fires, and this will penalise them further. We are the only sectors that remove emissions from the atmosphere. The opinion of the Agriculture Committee was completely ignored, said Liisa Pietola Chair of the Copa & Cogeca Environment Working Group.

A key point is that in order to take advantage of the full potential of long-term benefits from sustainably managed forests and harvested wood products as regards climate change mitigation and adaptation, Forest Reference Levels must, the critics argue, take into consideration the most recent data on forest resources and relevant policies.

A dynamic Forest Reference Level is essential for ensuring investments are made where it matters most: in sustainable forest management. Let’s keep Europe’s forests on a pro-growth trajectory that both maintains Europe’s forest carbon sink and unleashes the true potential of its bioeconomy, said Sylvain Lhôte, Director General at CEPI.

The umbrella organisations urge all MEPs to look at the big picture concerning the climate change mitigation and adaptation of forestry. In the transition period from a fossil-based society, all outlets of forestry are needed and benefits should be examined in the long term remain confident that the upcoming discussions in the European Parliament and Council will have a positive impact on the further development of the proposal.

Use of wood from sustainably managed forests is THE key to concretely tackle climate change. European regulators must have the ambition to set a coherent and lively Forest Reference Level to maintain the forests carbon sink and ensure proper material availability that will allow the society to fully benefit from the carbon storage offered by Harvested Wood Products, said Patrizio Antonicoli, Secretary General of CEI-Bois.

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