Nature Restoration Regulation still requires greater balance in relation to other policy goals

Photo: Skogsindustrierna

EU institutions have reached agreement in the trilogue on the Nature Restoration Regulation. The Swedish Forests Industries Federation (SFIF) fully supports efforts to restore nature and the overall aim of the regulation. This is fully aligned with the SFIF’s stated ambition of achieving more resilient, more biodiverse and productive forests.

After a chaotic legislative process, especially in the European Parliament, SFIF finds it surprising that the Commission’s proposals still lack extensive amendments and improvements.

SFIF has criticized the legislation for being unclear, unbalanced towards other societal goals, for example the multifunctionality of forests, and failing to consider differences between Member States. There are currently different interpretations of the Habitats Directive, as well as differing histories of land use and systems for preserving and enhancing biodiversity.

The Council has helped to clarify important issues regarding, for example, the non-deterioration principle and mapping the status of habitat areas. In addition, the flexibility for Member States is slightly increased compared to the Commission proposals, which is positive. This includes leeway for adapting favourable reference areas to more realistic goals and for choosing forest indicators.

Nevertheless, SFIF still foresees a risk of large socio-economic impacts due to limitations in land use, especially forestry, in a Swedish context. The lack of consideration for other policy goals such as climate change mitigation and local access to renewable raw materials, has been criticized by many Member States and the Parliament, with little impact on the final agreement. 

The lack of coherence with other policy goals may reduce acceptance of the legislation and create difficulties in its interpretation and implementation in Member States.

SFIF urges Member States to implement the legislation in a balanced manner, for example, moving towards a more common assessment of the status of habitats and favourable reference areas.  Moreover, Member States would benefit from a common understanding on how to choose effective restoration measures that are balanced with other policy goals. Such an approach would restore nature and reduce some of the negative impacts on society, including distortions of the level playing field in the single market and reduced momentum for the climate transition.