Improving European action on forest management

The European Union consults on its deforestation and forest degradation action plan

The European Commission launched its consultation on ‘Deforestation and forest degradation – stepping up EU action’ in January. There are three weeks left to send in contributions.

FAO Brussels

Forest area of the size of Portugal was lost globally between 1990 and 2008 because of EU consumption of commodities grown on deforested land, shows a Commission study. However, forests play an important role in providing a wide variety of ecosystem services. For example, one third of the world’s cities obtain their drinking water from protected forested watersheds and 20% of European forests are dedicated to protect water and soils.

In this context, Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN Regional Office, spoke during a high-level international conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, ‘Forests at the heart of sustainable development’. At the event, all the different speakers highlighted the importance of forests and the wide variety of social, economic and environmental functions they harbour, and how they play a key role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Underlining how forests sustain livelihoods both in urban and rural landscapes, but also how forests and their services are under thread.

In addition to the global context of deforestation and forest degradation, also the huge potential for forest landscape restoration in Europe was highlighted. Under the Bonn challenge many countries, including the US, have committed a pledge towards 350 million hectares of restoration by 2030. In Europe, for now only Scotland has pledged a contribution. "We are looking forward to more pledges from EU Member States. Restoration has multiple benefits, mitigation, adaptation, improved watersheds, soil retention etc. It is thus even more surprising that we are still awaiting European pledges since 2010” said Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN European Regional Office.

IUCN hopes that the consultation of the European Commission will lead to improvement of the actions of the European Union to halt deforestation and very much encourages members to contribute.

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