25 Nov 2015
PHIL HOGAN ON EUROPE’S FORESTS – 25 NOVEMBERBrussels Daily
We are all aware of the value that European society attributes to
forests. Wooded areas represent one of our most important land
uses, covering about 40% of the EU total area – and have been
And this has been an important year for forests. The Seventh
Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe
recently took place in Madrid, and the COP21 in Paris will be a
huge global opportunity to highlight the importance of forests.
Crucially, we have also delivered the EU Forest Strategy,
providing guidance, direction and a blueprint for truly joined-up
thinking in relation to this important sector.
There is a pressing need to ensure the long term sustainable
Management and development of forests, balancing the
economic, social and environmental benefits they deliver.
The new EU Forest Strategy aims to establish the right
framework to achieve this. It seeks to promote the sector’s ability
to create innovation, growth and jobs while ensuring sustainable
forest management. It also addresses many of the issues that will
be discussed here today.
(Jobs & Growth)
Forestry is one of the main sectors that keep our rural areas
vibrant and sustainable. Forest-based industries provide nearly
three and a half million jobs in the EU and produce a total added
value of 135 billion euros a year.
The new EU Forest Strategy underlines that a sustainable,
trained and safe workforce is one of the pillars of a more
competitive forest sector. Well-managed forests with qualified
forest managers, workers and entrepreneurs will be vital for a
sustainable and competitive forest sector.
(Forestry and Rural Development)
From the CAP point of view, the Rural Development policy
offers significant opportunities for supporting the sustainable
and active use of forests.
In the Rural Development Programmes for 2014-2020, Member
States have the option to include measures on afforestation, the
establishment of agroforestry systems, as well as investments in
forestry technologies. They have the possibility to invest in
processing and marketing, organisational support for producer
groups, and co-operation in innovation and knowledge transfer.
Within the 118 Rural Development Programmes for 2014-2020,
around 7.2 billion euro of public expenditure is programmed for
forestry measures. This includes measures for enhancing the
environmental benefits of forests, such as biodiversity, soil
protection, or measures to prevent flooding and erosion.
(Circular Economy & Bioeconomy)
Forestry represents a key sector in the transition towards a low-
carbon and climate friendly economy.
Thus, forestry in the EU today faces several challenges and
opportunities. The demand for forest biomass is likely to
continue to increase, in line with the worldwide demand from
traditional industries, as well as from the growth of the
The increased usage of wood as a sustainable and renewable raw
material can contribute to decarbonise our economy, by
substituting for energy intensive materials. Accordingly, by
reducing our dependence on from external sources, we
contribute to the resilience of the Energy Union.
These new opportunities provide job and income opportunities
for forest owners and related sectors.
Indeed, beyond traditional uses of biomass, for example pulp
and paper, forestry also contributes to produce new bio-based
products such as biolubricants and biosolvents, as well as
biomaterials such as bioplastics or biopolymers. It also provides
ecosystem services such as soil carbon sequestration.
In order to attract investment in new value-chains in the forest
sector, we need to support research and innovation, maximise
human and social capital, and provide a stable and coherent
In forestry, we support the bioeconomy in three main ways:
As already mentioned, through the EU Forest Strategy, which
puts forests and the forest sector at the heart of the journey
towards a successful bioeconomy;
Through research and innovation funding;
And through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural
Development and networking activities. As mentioned earlier,
around 7.2 billion euro of public expenditure is programmed for
period 2014-2020 for forestry measures.
But we need more investments to make the bioeconomy a
reality, and smart Financial Instruments will be a key tool. I am
working closely with the European Investment Bank to develop
schemes that reflect the present and future needs of our foresters
and related rural businesses.
This is also closely related to the circular economy. Next week,
the Commission plans to adopt a new Circular Economy
Package, which will include a Communication on future actions
and initiatives to promote and support the circular economy.
(Bioenergy, Biomass sustainability)
As mentioned in the Communication on the Energy Union, the
Commission will propose a new Renewable Energy Package in
2016-2017. This will include a new bioenergy sustainability
policy as well as legislation to ensure that the 2030 EU
renewable energy target is met in a cost-effective manner.
The new bioenergy sustainability policy should encompass the
sustainable management of forests, in line with the EU’s Forest
Bioenergy based on forest biomass will continue to remain the
largest source of renewable energy in the EU. Accordingly, the
use of biomass is promoted through the EU renewable energy
policy and its implementation by Member States.
(Land Use & Climate change)
In the framework of the 2030 Energy and Climate Union, there
is a growing relevance of the integration of the land-use, land-
use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector into the 2030 EU
Climate and Energy Framework.
Currently, in the EU, the amount of carbon stored annually by
the LULUCF sector represents 9 – 10 % of EU annual GHG
Work on LULUCF is also addressed in the EU Forest Strategy,
and in the recently adopted Forest Multi-annual Implementation
Plan, which has climate change as one of its priorities.
The Commission is currently working on the question of how to
deal with Agriculture and Land Use, Land Use Change and
Forestry (LULUCF) in the future climate policy framework up to
- Apolicy proposal will be presented in 2016, based on a solid
impact assessment of the different options and COP21 outcomes.
The Impact Assessment will include a quantification of the cost
effective GHG mitigation potential in agriculture and LULUCF. It
will analyse the pros and cons of the possible options for the
integration of LULUCF in the 2030 Climate Framework. It will
also explore combinations of various elements of these options that
would allow the achievement of the target in the most cost-effective
way, ensuring coherence between the EU’s food security and
climate change objectives.
In conclusion, it is my hope that the 2030 Climate and Energy
framework will act as a catalyst for the future development of the
bioeconomy, which is a major priority for the Juncker Commission.