EU Forest Directors-General on the new EU forest strategy and the role of forests in achieving the global objectives
An informal meeting of EU Forest Directors-General was held yesterday and today. State Secretary Aleš Irgolič attended the plenary session, which took place yesterday in Maribor. Pierre Bascou, Director at the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Humberto Delgado-Rosa, Director at the Directorate-General for Environment, attended the session as representatives of the European Commission. Today, foreign delegations went on a field trip to Radlje pri Dravi and its surrounding area.
Representatives of 21 EU Member States, European Commission, CEPF, EUSTAFOR, COPA-COGECA and FERN participated in yesterday's plenary session. The participants discussed the role of forests in current policies and strategies, and the contribution of forests and forestry to achieving national, EU and global objectives, in particular in the light of the new EU forest strategy, the new strategic plan of the Common Agricultural Policy and the rural development policy. State Secretary Aleš Irgolič stressed that we are very conscious of the importance of forests in Slovenia. "This is why an important share of the strategic plan for the period 2023–2027 is devoted to forestry. We promote investment in establishing and developing forest plant nurseries and in building and maintaining fire-safety infrastructure. We are aware that such investment contributes significantly to the improvement of forests and the maintenance of forests in Slovenia."
Pierre Bascou, Director at the European Commission, stressed that forests in the EU play an important role in transitioning to a modern, climate-neutral and competitive bioeconomy, and in ensuring green jobs. " The European Commission suggested a holistic approach to addressing these challenges; this is also reflected in the new EU forest strategy for 2030. The main objective is to increase the quantity and quality of European forests; they are our greatest ally in fighting against climate change and the loss of biodiversity, and they contribute to the economic and rural development and the creation and maintenance of jobs." They plan to achieve this with financial support from public and private funds for measures in the field of forestry and digitalisation in forestry, and by focusing on the entire scope of forestry.
Humberto Delgado-Rosa, Director at the European Commission, emphasised that forests play a crucial role in our environment; they ensure biodiversity, flood protection and human health, and they facilitate our response to climate change. "There are many forests in the EU. However, their condition is questionable; forest ecosystems are not in a good condition due to the outbreak of bark beetles across Europe, periods of severe drought affecting the trees and the increasingly frequent forest fires in Europe. Sustainable, multifunctional and close-to-nature forest management does not need to be reinvented; we just have to fully implement what we know and what we are already doing." The European Commission seeks to identify indicators together with the Member States that would enable us to monitor the implementation of measures in the field of sustainable, multifunctional and close-to-nature forest management.
Robert Režonja, Director-General of the Forestry and Hunting Directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, also emphasised the new EU forest strategy. He stressed that foresters across the EU face different challenges. He mentioned the severe ice damage in 2015, affecting nine million cubic metres of trees in Slovenian forests, which we are still restoring today. Slovenian forests were also affected by bark beetles in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and by windfall in 2018 and 2019. "This should not only be a concern for Slovenian foresters, but for the general public as well. Forests are the key building block of our green future."
Aleksander Saša Arsenovič, Mayor of the City Municipality of Maribor, attended the opening of the meeting and presented the "Partnership for Pohorje" project, which was set up by a local group. The project, which puts into practice 100 years of efforts for a united Pohorje, connects the Podravska, Koroška and Savinjska region. The "Partnership for Pohorje" project is an example of good practice in the promotion of sustainable development and a holistic rural management and development. Its main objective is to preserve the natural and cultural features and promote a coherent economic and tourism development, focusing on the sustainable use of natural resources.
Today, EU Forest Directors-General went to Radlje pri Dravi as part of their field trip. They were familiarised with the procedure of establishing the Centre for the promotion of sustainable, multifunctional and close-to-nature forest management, and they visited the Pahornik forest where the representatives of the European Commission and the Member States discovered a practical example of forest management system in Slovenia (sustainable, multifunctional and close-to-nature forest management) as an example of good practice of forest management in the EU.