In European Forest Week, Copa‐Cogeca underlined that the EU forest sector is a key driver for growth and employment in EU rural areas. And EU rural development policy will play a crucial role in ensuring that the new EU forestry strategy is a success, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stressed.
Speaking at a press conference organised by Copa-Cogeca and chaired by COPA-COGECA press officer Amanda Cheesley, Pekka Pesonen welcomed the new EU forestry strategy, stressing it will provide coherent framework to ensure that we have a consistent approach across all policy areas and take into account the new challenges for forests and the forestry sector like climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity, resource efficiency and the green economy.
The new EU Rural Development Policy will play a crucial role in successfully implementing the forest strategy and in helping the sector to face these new challenges and to benefit from the opportunities. Forests cover 40% of the EU area and are a key driver for growth and employment un EU rural areas at the same time as protecting ecosytems. The strategy recognises the vital contribution the forest sector makes to the Europe 2020 Strategy and promotes opportunities to further develop the bio-economy.
Outlining details of the strategy, Mr Pesonen said that one of the strategic orientations clearly states that Member States should make use of rural development funds to improve competitiveness, promote diversification of economic activity and quality of life as well as deliver specific environmental public goods. Competitiveness is a key objective for the forest sector in order to provide growth and ensure employment in rural areas. The measure concerning investments in new forestry technologies and in the processing and marketing of forest products could meanwhile contribute to improving the production of wood, increase mobilisation and foster the efficiency of the activities in the forestry sector.
The ’’Setting up of producers groups’’ – a new measure for the forest sector that was introduced in the RDP – needs also to be promoted and included in the national/regional programmes. This measure could increase the market orientation, support forest holders to work together on harvesting and availability of their products and also enhance the development of business and marketing skills and facilitation of innovation process.
He went on to present measures that could help forest holders to adapt to and mitigate climate change and to better use the resources and support biodiversity. “As we all know, 30% of rural development funds should be dedicated to the environment and climate related measures.Forestry measures are also included under this provision. Support to investments to improve the resilience and environmental value of forest ecosystems, to promote afforestation and the creation of woodland are essential measures to support the ecological role of forests.. The forest sector is a vital source of biomass. These will impact positively on soil, water, air and biodiversity. “It is therefore crucial to boost the forest area”, he said.