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Sustainability of forest management requires local conditions are accounted for

Sustainability of forest management requires local conditions are accounted for
The For Forest Group joint statement signing at AustroFoma forestry tradeshow with forest Ministers Peter Kullgren (left) Sweden; Sari Essayah, Finland; Irena Šinko, Slovenia, and Norbert Totschnig, Austria (photo courtesy Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry).

At a meeting in Austria on September 25-26, 2023, of the "For Forest Group" composed of the forest Ministers of the most forested countries in the EU, the Ministers responsible for forestry of Austria, Slovenia, Sweden, and Finland signed a joint statement on the EU forest policy stressing the opportunities offered by a sustainable bioeconomy and the need to take all dimensions of sustainability and local conditions into account as the key conditions of sustainability.

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Forest-based products are renewable, resource-efficient, versatile, and essential for the growing sustainable bioeconomy. Sustainable forest management (SFM) and wood use create jobs in rural areas, prepare the ground for innovation and investment, and are an indispensable part of the energy transition.

Thejoint For Forest Group statement on September 26, 2023,also points out that the long-term use of wood as a construction material is not only of growing economic importance but also contributes to achieving climate targets.

The European Green Deal 2019 has brought a substantial shift in EU policy. A large number of strategies and binding legal acts have a direct impact on forestry and the timber sector.

Call to uphold EU’s subsidiarity principle

The statement strongly highlights the importance of the EU’s subsidiarity principle, i.e. that decisions should always be taken as locally as possible.

The concrete design of sustainable forest management should be adapted to national, regional, and local conditions.

As the competence concerning forest policy has not been transferred to the EU level, the responsibility for policymaking lies with the Member States and their forest laws and programs, taking into account forest-related EU policies.

All forest-related policymaking is guided by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality laid down in the EU Treaties.

The statement stresses that the EU level should take action on forest-related issues only after these have been adequately addressed at the national level.

Legislation affecting forests should not go beyond what is necessary. Binding rules at the EU level should be strictly limited to what is necessary to achieve EU objectives.

While in Austria, the Ministers also visited the country’s largest forestry trade fairAustroFoma, which is held every four years.

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