European and international policies on forest protection

In the world, 1/3 of the land is covered by forests. 9,4 millions hectare forest per year disappear. ¼ of the world’s population depends on forest resources for a living. In Europe, forests are growing slowly. 36 percent of the land is covered by forests. There is an increase of 0,3 percent per year. The European Union has a forest policy inside and outside the EU. Inside EU, the policy aims to support the concept of sustainable forest management. Outside EU, the policy aims to reduce poverty and to preserve biodiversity and natural resources. In this field, the EU is the biggest donor in the world. Europe has a tradition of sustainable forest management. This started in the Middle Ages, as the negative consequences of the spoil of the forest became clear.

The EU has 7 objectives concerning forestry:
1. Sustainable development of the EU forestry as rural development and the preservation of jobs in rural areas.
2. Protection of the natural environment (soil protection, erosion control, water regulation, improvement of air quality, carbon sequestration, climate change, conservation of biodiversity, restoration of damaged forests.
3. Ecological, economic and socially sustainable forest management.
4. Assuring the competitiveness of EU companies.
5. Improvement of forest monitoring instruments.
6. Certification of sustainable forest management.
7. Promotion of sustainable and equitable forest management to reduce poverty.

Two and a half percent of the EU population is economically active in the forest. There are public and private forests. It is not clear whether a public or a private forest is better for nature. There are some institutions concerning forests in EU.

  • Standing Forestry Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Forestry and Cork
  • Advisory Committee on Community policy regarding Forestry and Forest-based Industries
  • Habitats and Ornis Committee
  • Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee
  • European Tropical Forest Advisors Group

Only five percent of the rural development budget is invested in forest projects.
The most important projects of the EU are done in Indonesia, Brazil and Central Africa. Forest problems are not only seen as an environmental problem, but also as a social problem. That’s why EU wants to tackle the economic and social aspects by sustaining the NGO’s. EU does also research on forest.

Inside the EU

  • To tackle the fragmentation by linking forests. To do this, rural area can be changed in forest area, by paying the farmer to take care of the forest on his property. When there is a road, the forest has to be linked by a bridge and not by a tunnel, because the animals don’t dare to go in a tunnel.
  • To emphasize the forest factor in municipality plans.
  • To forbid clear cutting (as it is the case in Germany)
  • To install a committee that gives advise about how to preserve the biodiversity in the different forests.
  • To improve the people’s knowledge about forests. Every pupil should spend at least 1 day in a forest with a forester and learn about it.
  • Aforestation should not be done in monoculture, but with a variety of authentic kinds of trees.
  • Forest experts should take part in the decision-making process.
  • The ‘tree for travel’ program: a part of the fee paid by travelling by plane could be devoted to the forest.
  • To make people aware of what the PFSC-label means.
  • To help the EU companies who practice sustainable management of forests by funding.
  • To put tariffs on imported wood produced in a non-environmental way.
  • To settle criteria how the sustainable forest should look like in order to become a label (like it is done for biological food).
  • EU member states should help the producers by taxing the sustainable wood production lower than the non-sustainable wood production. (a kind of ecoboni).
  • Restoration of damaged forests by using calcium carbonate to neutralise the effect of acid rain.
  • To increase the size of the protected forest areas.
  • A cooperation of the national park administration of forests who are divided by a border.
  • A cooperation among all the landscape protected areas: sharing best practice.
  • By planning the Trans-European transport network: involving someone who is responsible for the forests. There should be no roads crossing the forests. Roads should be made around the forests.
  • On European level, more funding should be devoted to forests.
  • Creation of a framework for forestry students.
  • To give subsidies to people who plant a diversity of trees.
  • To introduce in the forest legislation that monoculture is forbidden.

Outside the EU
Projects in developing countries:

  • To give people of the developing countries the opportunity to study forestry.
  • To give students of sociology the possibility to study the problems of the regions with forest linked problems.
  • To give the people of developing countries wind-up clock radios (who function without batteries) so they can get information. In that way, the tribes can be convinced not to let the big companies burn down the trees.
  • To promote low-scale tourism so the local population gets money from it (but no mass-tourism).
  • EU should support local initiatives, for instance forestry-agriculture: agriculture between the trees.
  • EU should listen to the knowledge of the local people. This knowledge can be used for programs and research on the rainforest. It can also be used by universities.

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