The European forestry sector must be part of the future EU COVID-19 recovery plan
The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 is having a significant impact on forests and forestry in a growing number of European regions. In the context of the ongoing discussion on the EU recovery plan, and on the EU Green Deal, the forest owners and managers has jointly shared their concerns about the current situation to the representatives of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In their letter, the reasons why the forestry sector should be part of the EU recovery plan were clearly addressed.
In recent years, the EU forestry sector has been suffering from the severe impacts of climate change-induced damaging agents and natural disasters, which required forest owners and managers to adapt their management approaches and invest significant funds into keeping all forest functions up and running. The COVID-19 crisis, therefore, has hit at a time when the sector in various EU countries already finds itself in a difficult situation. This could have serious repercussions in the short and medium term not only for forest owners and managers but also for the forest-based sector as a whole.
In most Member States, the outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in a slowdown of forest management operations due to the confinement measures imposed. The immediate consequences for forest owners and managers primarily stem from the continued decline in wood outlets and sales in the interrupted supply chains. Sawmills, in particular, are heavily impacted due to the drastic drop in construction, furniture and panel production. Graphic paper and wood energy sector activities have also decreased. Overall, export-oriented industries are witnessing a decline in demand across the EU. Forestry contractors are also experiencing difficulties due to the industry shutdown. These factors, in addition to the forest calamities, are causing the markets and prices to collapse and pose high forest health and resilience risks. This situation and the actions needed to address it, including adaptation to climate change, will affect the economic viability of the forestry sector.
By providing multiple ecosystem services as well as 500,000 jobs to the society, the EU forestry sector must be seen as a central solution in the green recovery and in achieving the EU Green Deal objectives. It is therefore of paramount importance that the EU recovery plan and multiannual financial framework (MFF) adequately recognise and support the forestry sector.
Please read the joint letter here.
The letter was also sent to representatives of 7 Directorates-General of the European Commission (ENVI, AGRI, GROW, CLIMA, SANTE, ECHO, DEVCO, RTD) and the European Parliament’s Chairmanships of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Development.
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