Forestry

Forests are an important element of the landscape – they are a rich resource and an indispensable component of the environment. Besides providing timber as a renewable raw material and the role they play in the rural development, forests provide fundamental environmental, protective, social and other services.

A wide diversity of natural forest types is characteristic of the EU, as well as great differences in forest cover, ownership structure, and socioeconomic conditions. This is one of the reasons why no common forestry policy exists. The basis for a stronger cooperation between the EU Member States is now the EU Forestry Strategy, adopted in 1998, and initiated by the then acceding countries with an influential forestry industry. This strategy is based on a multifunctional concept of forests and adheres to the principle of sustainable management.

In June 2004, following the enlargement of the EU by countries with significant forestry, the Forest Action Plan was adopted to respond to changes in the forestry sector in the enlarged EU and to strengthen the implementation of the Forestry Strategy.

Forestry priorities of the Czech Republic’s EU Council Presidency

1) Eighth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF 8)

The United Nations Forum on Forests was set up in 2000 and draws on the five years’ forestry policy dialogue by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF). The UNFF was set up under an ECOSOC resolution in October 2000 as a UN body whose prime objective was to promote the management, protection and sustainable development of all types of forests.

UNFF 8 is scheduled to take place from 20 April to 1 May 2009.

The summary themes and their sub-themes for UNFF 8 in 2009 are:

  • forests in a changing environment:

a. forests and climate change;
b. reversing the loss of forest cover, preventing soil degradation in all types of forests and combating deforestation, including countries with low forest cover;
c. forests and biodiversity conservation, including protected areas;

  • means of implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM):

a. decision on a voluntary global financial mechanism, portfolio and a forest financing framework.

As for the UNFF, no significant direct impact on the Czech Republic is expected, and any outputs will need to be reflected in the national forestry policy documents (national forestry programme) and gradually implemented into various measures of legislative, financial or informative nature. The objective of these processes, however, will be to advance the requirements of the EU at global level and to increase the standards of forest management and protection around the globe.

Regarding the financing of permanently sustainable forest management, the Czech Republic tends to favour the use of the existing funding resources and refuses the creation of a new global forestry fund.

With regard to ’Forests in Changing Environment’, the Czech Republic expects an output in the form of a resolution (not just a discussion and a summary by the chairman) which will send out a signal about the role of forests and forest management in the protection of forest biodiversity and in the limitations and adaptation to the climate change (including the recommendations for the post-Kyoto period after 2012).

Although the results of the session do not have any direct impact on the Czech Republic, it will be important to show that a new Member State is able to coordinate global negotiations by means of efficient communication and, for instance, by delegating specific tasks to stronger Member States (preparation of introductory declarations, proposals for background documentation etc.).

2) Nineteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO)

The Committee on Forestry (COFO) is the most significant governing body for forestry at the FAO. COFO sessions are held regularly every two years in Italy and are attended by directors and managers of the state forestry authorities of FAO member states. The aim of the sessions is to determine the most important policy and technical issues relating to the forestry sector and to seek effective solutions based on appropriate measures. The sessions are also attended by significant international organisations and non-governmental groups. The COFO is responsible for approving the FAO forestry work programme and the corresponding budget.
The Nineteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry will be held on 16-20 March 2009 in Rome.

The programme of the session includes deliberations on the state of the world’s forests, the FAO Strategy for Forestry, issues concerning forests and climate change and the relationship of the public towards forests, as well as the launch of the preparation of the reports on the state of global forest genetic resources.

As regards COFO, no significant direct impact on the Czech Republic is expected, and any outputs will need to be reflected in the national forestry policies (national forestry programme) and gradually implemented into various measures of legislative, financial or informative nature. The objective of global processes of a similar type (for instance UNFF 8) is rather to advance EU requirements at global level and to increase the standards of forest management and protection around the globe.

Although the results of the session have no direct impact on the Czech Republic, it is crucial to show that a new Member State is able to coordinate global negotiations by means of efficient communication and, for instance, by delegating certain tasks to stronger Member States (formulation of certain introductory declarations, proposals for background documentation etc.).


3) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)

The Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade is geared towards promoting a higher level of forest law enforcement in problematic countries from which the EU imports wood and wood products. In particular, it should ensure that only wood and wood products from legal sources enter the EU market. The basic principle of the action plan is for the EU and partner (usually developing) countries to enter into voluntary partnership agreements. The most important element of the partnership agreement will be the introduction of EU timber import licences. If a consignment of wood or wood products from a partner country is not accompanied by a valid FLEGT licence, it will not be granted entry to the EU and will not be put into circulation.

In October 2008, the European Commission submitted a legislative proposal based on the EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) which will supplement the current legislation aiming to introduce controls of illegally logged wood and its products entering EU markets.

The objective of the draft regulation of the European Parliament and the Council, which stipulates the obligations of companies introducing wood and wood products on EU markets, is to discourage companies from trade in wood and wood products on EU markets without having been provided with reasonable guarantees of their legality. The proposal builds on the principles of due diligence. The companies will be required to implement due diligence systems in order to lower, as much as possible, the risk of illegally logged wood and wood products introduced on the Community market.

The Czech Republic identifies itself with the main priority of the EU – the fight against illegal logging and the related trade. It is obvious that the currently negotiated bilateral partnership agreements and the related FLEGT license regime can resolve the illegal logging issue only partially. It is therefore necessary to seek other legal instruments to hinder illegal logging. In this sense, the Czech Republic welcomes the proposal submitted by the European Commission.

It is also necessary to point out that the Czech Republic is, in terms of wood trade and wood products, mostly an exporter. The Czech Republic imports only very limited amounts of tropical wood and related products and thus participates in the excessive exploitation of global forests only negligibly. Although the proposal is aimed mostly to solve the problem of illegal logging and the related trade in wood products outside the EU, it will in fact affect all companies introducing wood and wood products on the EU market.

It is important to bear in mind that the new measures and instruments to fight illegal logging do not excessively increase the administrative demands connected with the introduction of wood products on the market and that these new measures and instruments do not disadvantage wood products (and their producers) in relation to other materials (plastic, steel, concrete etc.), whose production and use has a significantly worse impact on the environment. These interests will be seen to consistently by the Czech Republic in the negotiations of the proposal.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:01

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