EU Taxonomy: Revise the recommendation for technical criteria

Criteria and indicators for Sustainable Forest Management must be adapted to national conditions. This is one of the main points in the Swedish Forest Industries response to the recommendations for technical screening criteria for the EU taxonomy.

The Swedish Forest Industries has analyzed the draft report by the Platform on Sustainable Finance on preliminary recommendations for technical screening criteria in relation to the four non-climate environmental objects. These cover water, circular economy, pollution prevention, and biodiversity and ecosystems.

– The six environmental objectives established by the Taxonomy Regulation are all important and relevant. Therefore, the proposed criteria cannot be adopted in their current form. There is a need for a thorough revision by the technical working group. It’s important to involve the forest-based sector and forestry-related researchers across Europe in this work to get a broader perspective than the one applied so far, says Magnus Berg, Head of Business Policies at the Swedish Forest Industries.

No one-size-fits-all solutions 

Magnus Berg points out criteria for forest management has to be adapted to national conditions, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for European forests. 

– The proposed criteria represent an attempt at centralized regulation that will inevitably lead to widespread suboptimization of forest management. It also goes against how forest policy is to be handled in the EU – as a national competence, adapted to local conditions and considering a broad set of sustainability goals.

Magnus Berg also stresses the lack of scientific evidence in the report:

– There are several shortcomings in the science-based references. Some of the claimed scientific evidence and references used in the report are disputed, unknown and not peer reviewed. Therefor the proposed approach, criteria and references should be reviewed and revised. As an example, the criteria and approach should be based on the widely known, accepted and commonly used forest classification systems by FAO and Forest Europe.

The report also includes circular economy criteria

Kai-Yee Thim, Director of Products and Product Safety at the Swedish Forest Industries, points out that Member State specific conditions must be taken into account in order to provide a competition neutral use of the taxonomy within the EU.

– The suggested criteria in the draft report give advantages to Members States with less natural resources and larger population, and consequently disadvantages to Member States such as Sweden, that have abundant natural resources and less population, says Kai-Yee Thim.