The new EU Forest Strategy has hit the forest headlines over the summer and, in a timely online debate, policymakers from the EU Commission met with experts representing forest owners and managers, civil society and national policymakers to discuss what the strategy means for those it affects.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Forest Institute (EFI) joined forces to organise the high-level webinar and exchange on 22 September 2021, with support of the SINCERE project and Integrate Network. The webinar, moderated by Georg Winkel, Head of EFI’s Governance Programme and SINCERE Project Coordinator, was attended by more than 200 participants.
There was constructive and critical dialogue, with reflections on future implementation and collaboration within the framework established by the new EU Forest Strategy, and in particular its biodiversity and climate change objectives. Topics ranged from the role of the forest sector in carbon farming and the CAP, to Forest Management Certification.
Representing DG Environment, Raphaël Lelouvier, presented key strategy actions and responded to questions from panellists and participants along with Marco Onida, also of DG Environment. An extremely interesting and lively panel debate brought together key stakeholder perspectives with panel members Fanny-Pomme Langue (CEPF), Meelis Seedre (Estonian Ministry of Environment), Sabien Leemans (WWF), Pierre Hermans (Sylva Nova Forest Consultancy) and Christoph Dürr (Integrate Network).
The intense and wide-ranging discussion clearly showed the complexity of the EU Forest Strategy and the need to consider differing country legislations, divergent views of key actors and stakeholders, and that the EU Forest Strategy should be implemented outside silos. The Strategy needs an integrated and multifunctional approach to overcome these challenges, a direction which resonates loudly with both SINCERE and Integrate and which both projects are ready and willing to support.
Chantal van Ham, Acting Director of IUCN European Regional Office, and EFI Director Marc Palahí wrapped up the event with insightful reflections on the discussion, both of them looking to the future for forests and the potential for collaboration and action. Indeed, it is clear that further transparent science, practice and policy dialogue is much needed and also that there is much will from all stakeholders that the conversation should continue.