Comments on the EU Commission’s proposal for a framework for forest monitoring

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The Swedish Forest Industries Federation supports the ambition from the European Commission to ensure the availability of quality data on forests in the EU. However the proposal presented today on a new monitoring system of the Union’s forests risks not delivering on these expectations. It is not obvious how the proposal adds relevant knowledge of the functions of the forest, at least not for countries with national inventories that already exchange data within international initiatives, and in relation to mandatory monitoring already set in EU-legislation.

“We welcome the ambition to improve knowledge about the state of Europe’s forests and greater accessibility to comparable data, and to extended use of satellite monitoring to improve fast access to data on on-going natural disturbances. At the same time, it is, at a first glance, difficult to discern a clear purpose for all of the suggested indicators” says Viveka Beckeman, Director General of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation.

The Forest Monitoring Law is intended to establish a more complete picture of the state of Europe’s forests and all the services that they provide. There are many Member States, including in the Nordics and Central Europe, which have had well-functioning surveillance systems in place for many years with extensive datasets. Through the Swedish National Forest Inventory, Sweden has monitored forests for a hundred years.

“The proposal’s strong focus on satellite and geographic information goes against the logic and tradition of well-functioning inventory systems, which are based on aggregated data samples from monitoring sites. It also shifts the focus, from the actual need of more qualitative data in all Member States, to the creation of layers of digital mapping and simplified indicators,” says Viveka Beckeman.

How digitalisation can be used to promote sustainable development in forestry is one of a number of focus areas of an ongoing national research project in Sweden.  New measurement methods and research on biodiversity are also prioritised to fulfil the potential of viable forests with greater biodiversity.

“In the upcoming negotiations, we call for the relevance, measurability and importance of the proposed indicators for various societal goals to be carefully evaluated by the European Parliament and the Member States, especially those that already have well-functioning inventory systems,” concludes Viveka Beckeman.