A new era of forest policymaking

Forests and forest-relevant policies in Europe face a wide array of challenges in a rapidly changing world. Issues such as Brexit, the new European Parliament and European Commission, and the recent European Green Deal proposal are certain to affect policymaking, as are the as-yet unknown impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

A new science-policy study from the European Forest Institute (EFI) provides a timely look at forest governance in Europe, and offers insights into the potential way forward. Many of the forest-relevant policies currently in place have been targeted towards 2020, and while a final evaluation of their achievements is not yet possible, a look into the future is essential.

Forest products and services are increasingly an inherent and integrated element of many other sectors, ranging from energy to food production to conservation and public health. This wide range of sectors and multiple interests, at different levels, leads to a complex multi-sectoral governance system.

For example, within the EU, negotiations are currently ongoing on post-2020 EU policies on agriculture and rural development, biodiversity, climate, industry, food security, circular economy and new legislation on sustainable finance. All of them, and the EU Green Deal in particular, will have an important influence on forest-related decision-making processes.

A strategic and coordinated policy direction will be required after 2020, not least to support the implementation of globally agreed policy targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and Convention on Biological Diversity. In the global policy arena, trade developments related eg to China, Russia and North America will also have important implications for the European forest sector.

This report reviews significant developments in the forest governance framework including EU and international developments, and discusses how coordination in other policy areas than forests can lead to policy integration. Based on evidence from a literature review, stakeholder interviews and workshop results, it outlines several potential pathways for future forest policymaking in Europe.

Study coordinator Bernhard Wolfslehner said: “The European Green Deal puts the forest-based sector in a key position in climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection, and it is therefore important to emphasize forest policy integration and strengthen its implementation.”

The full study is available here: https://doi.org/10.36333/fs10

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