Innovative and sustainable forest-based industries in the EU

Gist of the opinion

The EESC recommends the following:

• Widen the notion of forest-based industries (FBI) to include forest owners and other economic operators such as forest contractors for identifying problems and opportunities from the outset of the value chain.

• Further improve, including through studies, existing European databases recording the volume and potential quality of all harvestable wood, as well as wood use (from both European and imported sources) by FBI, so as to make them complete, timely and comparable.

• Support increased production and mobilisation of wood from Europe’s forests and its equitable use for various purposes at national level.

• Promote an increased use of wood and wood-based materials.

• Support measures to improve the image of FBI.

• Work actively towards the recognition of the role of wood and wood products in mitigating the effects of climate change, e.g. acting as carbon stores.

• Safeguard the sector from negative effects deriving from the emissions trading scheme.

• Eliminate barriers to trade in wood and wood products. Ensure a free but fair trade.

• Address the research needs of the industries as defined in the context of the Forest-based Sector Technology Platform (FTP), through the Seventh Framework Programme and related programmes.

• Encourage both relevant EU institutions and industry to pay special attention to enhancing the enforcement of those EU occupational health and safety policies, regulations and programmes that are relevant to FBI, so as to bring all EU countries up to the same standard.

• Develop European vocational training and qualifications for the whole forestry-wood chain, based upon the needs of industry.

• Encourage national and sub-national authorities to recognise and act upon the potential of commercial forestry and the FBI. Due attention should be given to increasing investment in road and other infrastructures in rural areas.

• In conjunction with the Forest Action Plan, develop systems to evaluate the economic and social value of multifunctional forestry and non-timber services and ensure that in future they are recognised as constituent parts of a single industry, which includes forest-owners, forest contractors, etc.