Posts Forestry

Under the umbrella of the recent European Green Deal and its Action Plan, there are a number of policy instruments that are relevant to forest policy and management. Some of these EU forest related policy instruments have set direct or indirect forest relevant quantitative or qualitative targets. But what is the focus of these targets, and can progress towards these targets be measured?

A recent article in Forest Policy and Economics identified forest relevant targets in current EU policy instruments, and examines whether the pan-European Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management are sufficient to satisfy the information needs of EU policy makers when monitoring progress towards the targets set.

Forest relevant targets in EU forest related policy instruments

In five out of seven analysed EU policy instruments (Table 1), 8 quantitative and 16 qualitative targets occur which address forest relevant issues (Table 2). Half of the targets focus on biodiversity, five targets on forest area and carbon flows, three targets on socioeconomic functions, and some more targets focus on forest health and vitality, protective functions, and productive functions of forests. The analysis of the policy instruments shows that forest issues are not approached at the policy level in a sector-defined “silo”. Forest relevant targets are completely integrated into the policy instruments, appearing alongside targets for neighbouring sectors or actions in a wider context.

Monitoring progress towards forest relevant targets with the pan-European criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management

The analysis shows that pan-European indicators for sustainable forest management are appropriate to provide information on progress towards 11 out of 24 identified forest-relevant targets. However, the suitability of the pan-European indicators for providing information on progress towards targets varies across the policy instruments. 20 and 16 indicators, respectively, are appropriate for reviewing the targets of the Biodiversity Strategy and the Farm to Fork Strategy. Fewer indicators are appropriate for providing information on progress towards targets in the context of the European Green Deal (11 indicators) and the Forest Strategy (6 indicators). Only one indicator is found useful regarding the Bioeconomy Strategy. Some of the indicators need to be adjusted to provide the necessary information. (Table 3).

Target setting in the forthcoming EU Forest Strategy 2021

The results of this study may contribute to reporting on progress towards forest-relevant targets in EU forest related policies, notably by identifying what parameters could be measured/monitored and might facilitate forest-related target setting in revisions and new development of policy instruments, particularly the revision of the EU Forest Strategy.

Lier, M.; Köhl, M.; Korhonen K.; Linser, S.; Prins, K. (2021). Forest relevant targets in EU policy instruments – can progress be measured by the pan-European criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management? Forest Policy and Economics 128 (2021) 102481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102481