A NEWLY adopted framework recognising the role forests can play in tackling the climate change emergency "does not reflect the reality on the ground". 

That's the view of a major industry body which has today raised concerns about the European Council's EU forest strategy for 2030 and its conclusions signed off by ministers this morning. 

Among a host of other points, it was agreed forestry can play a key role in the EU’s transition to a green, climate neutral and competitive circular bio-economy, but it was also noted that there will be a need to strike the balance between the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable forest management. 

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While welcoming the framework, concern has been raised that the strategy was not developed on the ground and, as a result, industry figures have called for more clarity on the document's conclusions. 

A statement by the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR), which represents state forest companies across the continent, read: "European forest owners and managers welcome the Council Conclusions adopted today on the EU Forest Strategy for 2030 and fully share the concerns expressed by the Members States.

"These Conclusions make important requests to the European Commission with regards to actions proposed in the Strategy and a clear call to truly involve and listen to Member States and those who take care of our forests on a daily basis.

"In line with the views communicated by European forest owners and managers, the Conclusions emphasise the key role of European forest owners and managers in delivering on the Strategy’s objectives, call for a balanced vision on the different dimensions of sustainability and stress the importance of Member States’ competence.

"European forest owners and managers have called for major clarifications on actions included in the EU Forest Strategy for 2030." 

The statement added: "Forest owners and managers join Member States in regretting that the Strategy was not developed together with the Member States and relevant stakeholders.

"Over the last months, European forest owners and managers have underlined repeatedly that the Strategy does not reflect the reality on the ground and that the one-size fits all approach taken in the Strategy overlooks the diversity of European forests.

"This is further confirmed by the Member States in the Conclusions that stress that such an approach may even prove counterproductive and emphasise the need to recognise, respect and maintain the diversity and specificities of forests across the EU.

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"European forest owners and managers are determined to deliver on their commitment.

"However, prior to any further development of the actions proposed in the Strategy, the necessary clarifications and thorough assessments identified by the Member States and stakeholders must be carried out." 

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Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian minister for agriculture, said during today's agriculture and fisheries meeting: "As one of the most densely forested countries in Europe, Slovenia has always appreciated the importance of sustainable forest management.

"Today’s conclusions reflect the need for all stakeholders to work together and adopt a balanced approach in order to come to terms with the unprecedented challenges facing our forests, while also protecting communities whose livelihoods depend on forest resources." 

The Forestry Journal has contacted the European Commission for comment on the concerns raised by the EUSTAFOR.