The EU forest stakeholders (European State Forest Association, Confederation of European Forest Owners, European Landowners’ Organization and Copa-Cogeca) co-organised the event “Seeing the forest for the trees – the multifunctional role of EU forests” on 21 January 2020 in the European Parliament (EP). The event, hosted by MEP Petri Sarvamaa, rapporteur for the EP’s initiative report on the EU Forest Strategy, addressed the significant contribution of multifunctional forests to the EU’s climate and biodiversity objectives.
More than one-third of Europe is covered by forests, providing European citizens with economic, environmental and social benefits. The multifunctional roles of forests are often overlooked or not well understood by the policymakers and the public and thus remain underestimated. This is often due to the wide spread of generalised or even false messages about the causes of forest degradation, their commercial overuse, or the lack of measures to preserve their biodiversity, etc. Such messages underestimate Member States’ forest legislation and the efforts of forest owners and managers to ensure sustainable and multifunctional forest development.
Collaboration between policymakers and the forestry sector is central to optimising the multiple benefits provided by forests. All actors involved in the organisation of this event strongly believe that a balanced approach to all forest functions is key to ensuring consistency between forest-related policies in the EU. MEP Petri Sarvamaa underlined that “A self-standing and robust EU Forest Strategy is the most appropriate tool to enable multifunctional EU forests to tackle the challenges of our time.” This is particularly relevant within the context of climate change and emerging societal expectations in Europe as well as the scope of the European Green Deal.