A too narrow roadmap to revised EU Forest Strategy

4 questions to Anna Holmberg, representing the Swedish Swedish forest industry in Brussels, about the EU Commission’s roadmap to a revised EU Forest Strategy. The Strategy will be revised during 2021.

You are deeply concerned with the roadmap. You even claim the tonality in it is alienating. This is quite harsh words. What do you mean?  

“When reading the roadmap, we get the impression that the Commission prefers to work not with, but against, the forest owners. The forest owners are not acknowledged for the good work they are doing on a daily basis for a sustainable development. I think measures are best defined together with those, who work with and in forests, not solely by others standing on the outside.” 

An EU Forest Strategy built on the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy doesn’t make sense from a forest owner’s perspective, you argue. Why is that? 

A forest owner is daily balancing the three aspects of sustainability. When sustainably managing a forest resource, the ecologic, economic and social dimensions are inevitably intertwined. We need to have the same balance in the EU Forest Strategy.” 

And from the forest-based industry’s point of view? 

The Swedish forest industry shares the forest owners perspective; a strategy built on only one out of three aspects of sustainability just does not make sense. The Strategy must also apply a holistic perspective encompassing the entire forest-based value chains and our contribution to a sustainable futureAnd regarding ecological and climate mitigation aspects, the roadmap focuses on sequestration of carbon in growing forestsBut equally important is storage of carbon in wood-based products and substitution when forest-based products replace fossil-based alternatives. The Strategy should contribute to assure forest-based products’ ability to contribute to overall policy objectives. 

And what about the timing revising the EU Forest Strategy? 

“It’s absolutely the right time for this. The present Strategy was adopted in 2013 and since then, the political context has changed considerably. We have the Paris Agreement, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and the European Green Deal. The importance of forest-based value chains in EU policies have considerably increased and this is valid for a wide range of policy areas such as climate, energy, environment, circular bioeconomy, rural development and green recovery.