Deforestation legislation needs more clarity

Photo: Björn Leijon / MostPhotos

The European Parliament has adopted its position on the regulation on deforestation-free products. The Swedish Forest Industries supports the aim of the proposal and welcomes the swift adoption. It also sees room for improvement when defining key concepts in the legislation, such as forest degradation.

“It is an important regulation to stop deforestation and support trade in sustainable products. But some things in the position remain unclear and may hamper implementation. The definition of forest degradation should be improved in the upcoming trilogues”, says Emma Berglund, Forest Director EU and International, at the Swedish Forest Industries Federation. 

Forest degradation needs to be clearly defined

Forest degradation is complex to define and very context dependent. For it to apply, one needs to consider the long-term effects in forests and the permanence of changes to biological and economic productivity.

“Without taking the long-term view, any management operation could be considered “forest degradation”. Furthermore, changes in species composition will be needed to adapt forests to changing climate. Therefore, considering any changes in species composition as “forest degradation” is not the right approach”, says Emma Berglund.  

Geolocation requirement should be simplified

The regulation imposes a requirement to identify geolocation coordinates of all plots of land where relevant commodities are produced.

“This is a very administratively burdensome and information heavy requirement. Therefore, it would be more proportionate for it to apply only to operators sourcing the raw material in countries classified as high-risk”, says Emma Berglund.

“The continued legislative process should focus on creating an efficient and implementable system for the regulation to have the desired impact. The new system should not entail an unreasonably high administrative burden for companies and authorities. We hope the trilogues will be constructive and this important legislation put in place as quickly as possible”, concludes Emma Berglund.