Forest production and protection not in contradiction

Roadmap for EU Nature Restoration Targets

Europe have a great variety of forests. Any nature restoration targets must adjust to local and regional variations and this is best done by Member States.

The roadmap for EU Nature Restoration Targets derives from the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The roadmap describes objectives and policy options to restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters.

Given the right incentives, legally binding nature restoration targets might not be needed, Karin Tormalm, Forest policy advisor at the Swedish Forest Industries argues. She suggests the European Commission to start with non-binding measures to support restoration activities.

“Voluntary, realistic and concrete targets combined with motivating guidance, and financing support, gives more incentive to private landowners to carry out activities than legally binding targets do. The option analysis for a legally binding target should therefor clearly investigate the reasons why not a bigger proportion have been restored until now, and also learn from Member States with a better achievement, before developing further legislation.”

Karin Tormalm thinks that the EU institutions should reinforce that forest production and protection objectives can be met simultaneously and are not in contradiction.

“Sustainable Forest Management must be the main tool to meet objectives and such management should be adaptive. A restoration plan must create strong forest owner engagement. It should furthermore define that meeting several objectives simultaneously, such as restoration, climate change mitigation and wood production, is the overarching target.“

Regarding to capture and store carbon, Karin Tormalm points out that the most effective way to mitigate climate change is to increase forest growth and to use the biomass for wood-based products which can substitute fossil-based materials and energy.

“Promoting increased growth of forests through sustainable forest management is superior to all other alternatives to combat climate change, including restoration. In other words, the Impact Assessment should include growth promoting efforts as an essential and even more important complement to restoration objectives.”