Slovenia for a greater role of forests within the ‘for forests group’
The Minister Irena Šinko, participated today in the ‘For Forests Group’ meeting. The Member State Ministers, cooperating in the Group, signed the Guidelines and principles on closer cooperation in forestry within the European Union. The meeting was held in the margins of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting.
European Union has no common forestry policy, as known in agriculture, and forestry is not indicated as the exclusive competence of the Union, or as shared competence, either. Many documents in the different areas of the EU are more and more impacting forestry management at national level. Thus, there are arising calls for taking into account and recognition of existing national forest management systems, forest inventories, forest programme and strategy contents, and initiatives for recognition of cultural and historic forest management methods.
Slovenia, Austria, Finland and Sweden had therefore agreed that, at the level of Ministers competent for forests and forestry, they would constitute an informal strategic partnership called the “For Forests Group”. Partnership will advocate for an integrated approach to sustainable forest management, where all the functions of forests (economic, environmental and social) are to be treated equally. Key targets of strategic partnership include the setting up of informal dialogue/environment for preparation of common positions, exchange of expertise, and comprehensive knowledge of circumstances and backgrounds of functioning of the European Commission, and providing mutual support in decision-making at EU level on forest-related topics.
Slovenia joins the signing of Declaration Establishing the Partnership that, undoubtedly, will reinforce mutual communication and, at the same time, facilitate greater efficiency in transferring Slovenian expertise and experiences in sustainable forest management to the European level. The Minister, Ms. Šinko, pointed out at the meeting that Slovenia would make great efforts, so that legislative and non-legislative acts would continue facilitating the integrated approaches to forests, and the appropriate coordination and balance of EU policies, which are relevant to forest management within the EU. “Slovenia belongs to the most forest-covered Member States, and care for forests and planning of their future development is in our national interest. By establishing the informal strategic partnership, we endeavour to draw attention of the four Member States, inter alia, to the important role of forests and forestry in transition of the European Union to the sustainable, green, climate-neutral and competitive circular bioeconomy. Namely, the role of forests is strongly linked to the history and culture of the Slovenian nation and, thus, our country has gathered multiple experiences, experts and expertise in this particular area. These originate from decades of sustainable, environmentally sustainable and multi-purpose forest and forest-land management. Here, it needs to be pointed out that existing national forest inventories are of key importance for better forest-linked policies and initiatives. It is important that in the first step we jointly and accurately define, which policies require the harmonised information on forests at EU level, and which indices need to be standardized and monitored. We are fully supporting the ‘For Forest Group’ partnership, as we believe that it will be of great help in implementing these activities.”
According to the Forest Europe data, forests cover approximately 40 % of the European Union territory. Forests deliver numerous advantages for the environment, and for the economic and social development, particularly in rural areas. Forests and the stock of timber have for decades been increasing in the EU, based on sustainable forest management, solid expertise basis that is consistently developing, and reasonable national forest policies and management supporting instruments. Forests and forestry around the globe are facing differing expectations and numerous challenges, linked in particular to climate change effects, global biodiversity loss, and growing political and social demands. In order to successfully tackle the future challenges, it is imperative to recognize the national forest management practices and circumstances linked to forests, and to foster close cooperation between the Member States, and the cooperation between the Member States and the EU institutions. In the light of challenges to be tackled in forestry at EU level, the Ministers today supported the establishing of informal strategic partnership at ministerial level within the so-called “For Forests Group”.