The EESC welcomes the new EU Forest Strategy. Against the backdrop of growing demands on and threats to forests, as well as many EU sectoral policies and associated rules affecting forestry and forests, the new strategy is sorely needed. The EESC therefore urges both the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the strategy is effectively and efficiently implemented.
- The Committee supports the holistic and balanced approach between the three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social), highlighted by the three overarching headings in the EU Forest Strategy, subdivided into a total of eight priorities.
- Given the great importance of forests for the development of rural areas and in order to achieve the goals set out in the strategy, the EESC calls for rural development programmes to include forestry-related measures, and for promoting these measures, in order to ensure a higher uptake of available funds.
- The EESC supports the use of forest management plans, but underlines that they should continue to be used on a voluntary basis and kept clearly separate from the Natura 2000 management plans to avoid unnecessary costs and red tape.
- The EESC urges the Commission, the EU Member States and all other relevant players to continue the negotiations to reach consensus on a legally-binding agreement (LBA) on forests in Europe.