EC publishes Communication on EU actions to protect and restore the world's forests
The European Commission (EC) has released a Communication on "Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World's Forests". The Communication was released on 23 July 2019 and addresses actions for both the supply and demand side of forests, which host 80% of biodiversity on land, support the livelihoods of around a quarter of the world's population, and are vital to efforts to fight climate change. In addition to envisaged measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, the EC also proposes targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimise the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.
The EC points out that its Communication is a response to the continued widespread destruction of the world's forests; an area of 1.3 million square kilometres was lost between 1990 and 2016, equivalent to approximately 800 football fields every hour. The main drivers of this deforestation are demand for food, feed, biofuel, timber and other commodities. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions linked to deforestation are the second biggest cause of climate change, so protecting forests is seen as a significant part of the EU's responsibility to meet the commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The Communication aims at protecting and improving the health of existing forests, especially primary forests, and significantly increasing sustainable, biodiverse forest coverage worldwide. The Commission has set out five priorities:
- Reduce the EU consumption footprint on land and encourage the consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains in the EU;
- Work in partnership with producing countries to reduce pressures on forests and to “deforest-proof” EU development cooperation;
- Strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and encourage forest restoration;
- Redirect finance to support more sustainable land-use practices;
- Support the availability of, quality of, and access to information on forests and commodity supply chains, and support research and innovation.
With regard to the research and innovation-related priority, the EC is planning, amongst others, to establish an EU Observatory on deforestation, forest degradation, changes in the world's forest cover and associated drivers. It is also looking to improve coordination of work among relevant research institutes, including through the north-south and south-south cooperation frameworks of the European Innovation partnership.For more information: