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Department of Forests

European Union and Forests

European and International Issues

European Union and Forests

1. EU Forest Strategy

2. Community actions in support of sustainable forest management

    2.1. Rural Development Policy

    2.2. Protecting forests from fires and air pollution

    2.3. Nature protection

    2.4. Invasive Species

    2.5. Inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)

    2.6. Marketing of Forest Reproductive Material (FRM)

    2.7. Protective measures against the introduction and spread into the community of organisms harmful to plants and plant products (Council Directive 2000/29/EC)

    2.8. Action plan for combating illegal logging and subsequent trade

    2.9. International Tropical Timber Agreement

European Union and Forests

While the Treaty on the Functioning the EU makes no reference to specific provisions for a common EU forest policy, the EU has a long history of contributing through its policies to implementing sustainable forest management and to Member States’ decisions on forests. Important developments include the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs, the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, Rural Development Policy, Industrial Policy, the EU Climate and Energy Package, the Plant Health and Reproductive Materials Strategy and the Biodiversity and Bioeconomy Strategies.

1. Forest Strategy

Based on subsidiarity and shared responsibility the 1998 EU Forestry Strategy established a framework for forest-related actions that support sustainable forest management and are based on cooperative, beneficial links between EU and Member State policies and initiatives. The Forest Action Plan 2007-2011 was an important instrument for implementing the strategy and addressed four objectives: competitiveness, environment, quality of life and coordination and communication. Co-financing of forestry measures under the Rural Development Regulation has been and will remain the main means of EU-level funding.

An ex-post evaluation of the Forest Action Plan underlined the need for a new forest strategy that:
· develops and implements a common vision of multifunctional and sustainable forest management in Europe;
· defines action priorities and targets;
· links EU and Member State funding strategies and plans;
· strengthens coherent cross-sectorial activity planning, funding and implementation;
· establishes clear mechanisms for monitoring, evaluating and reporting; and
· revises stakeholder involvement.

    On September 20, 2013, the Commission presented a Communication entitled "A new EU Forest strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector" to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

    On 19 May 2014, the Council adopted Conclusions welcoming the EU's new forestry strategy and on April 28, 2015, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution entitled "A new EU forestry strategy: for forests and the forestry sector".

    The new EU Forest strategy promotes a coherent, holistic view of forest management, covers the multiple benefits of forests, integrates internal and external forest-policy issues, and addresses the whole forest value-chain.

    It identifies the key principles needed to strengthen sustainable forest management and improve competitiveness and job creation, in particular in rural areas, while ensuring forest protection and delivery of ecosystem services. It also specifies how the EU wishes to implement forest-related policies.

    Ιn September 2015 the Commission adopted a Multi-Annual Implementation Plan of the Forest Strategy, which covers the following eight priority axes of the Strategy:
    · Supporting communities;
    · Promoting competitive and sustainable EU forest-based industries, bioenergy and the wider green economy;
    · Changing climate;
    · Protecting forests and enhancing ecosystem services;
    · Improving the forest knowledge base;
    · New and innovative forestry and added-value products;
    · Working together to manage and understand forests;
    · Forests from a global perspective.
    For each priority, the Implementation Plan sets out strategic orientations / objectives, actions, stakeholders, the implementation period of the actions and the expected outcome.

    The Commission is preparing a brand-new forestry strategy, which is expected to be adopted in 2021. The EU Forest Strategy post 2020 aims to align with the new European Green Deal, as well as the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. In this context, on November 10, 2020 the Council of the European Union adopted the Council Conclusions for the EU forest-related policies and EU Forest Strategy post 2020.

    2. Community actions in support of sustainable forest management

      2.1. Rural Development Policy

      The European Union's rural development policy is constantly evolving so that it can respond to the new challenges facing rural areas. It helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century and frequently called "the second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It aims to achieve the following strategic objectives:
      • fostering the competitiveness of agriculture,
      • ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and climate action, and
      • achieving a balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities, including the setting up and maintenance of jobs.

      The EU's rural development policy is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Rural development policy shares a number of objectives with other European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

      Member States and regions draw up their rural development programs based on the needs of their territories and addressing at least four of the following six common EU priorities:
      1. Fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas.
      2. Enhancing the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promoting innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management.
      3. Promoting food chain organization, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture.
      4. Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry.
      5. Promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors.
      6. Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas.

      The rural development priorities are broken down into specific areas of intervention, known as "focus areas". Within this framework, Rural development policy is implemented through Rural Development Programs (RDPs) in each EU Member State. RDPs are documents drawn up by countries and regions, setting out strategic approaches and actions to meet the needs of the specific geographical area they cover.

      The implementation and impact of the rural development policy is monitored and evaluated in detail. For the implementation of the new CAP in the programming period 2014-2020, the Council and the European Parliament adopted four basic regulations for:
      1. The Rural Development Regulation (Regulation EU No 1305/2013),
      2. The Horizontal Regulation (Regulation EU No 1306/2013) for financing, management and monitoring of the CAP,
      3. The Direct Payments Regulation (Regulation EU No 1307/2013), and
      4. The Common Organization of the Markets of Agricultural Products Regulation (CMO) (Regulation EU No 1308/2013).

      In addition, they also adopted Regulation EU No 1303/2013 (General Regulation) which lays down common provisions for all five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in order to improve the coordination and harmonization of the institutional Framework for the implementation of European policies.

      2.2. Protecting forests from fires and air pollution

      During the last 25 years, ICP-Forests (International Cooperative Program) has been developed into one of the most important bio-monitoring networks in the word. The results provide information regarding forest health, air pollution, climatic changes and biodiversity, both in national and Pan-European level.

      Cyprus participates in the program since 2001. The program was, at the beginning, co-funded by the EU through “Forest Focus” and “Life+” regulations, but since 2011 the expenses are exclusively covered by national resources.

      For the achievements of the program’s targets, the Department of Forests established 19 permanent plots throughout Cyprus forests, where various activities are carried out for the monitoring of Calabrian pine, Black pine and Cyprus cedar ecosystems. Observations and measurements show that prolonged drought is the main environmental stress factor which causes defoliation, discoloration/wilting of leaves and serious insect infestations.

      2.3. Nature Protection

      An important key criterion for sustainable forest management in the EU is compliance with and implementation of EU nature legislation, including the provisions of the Natura 2000 network. The Birds Directive (2009/147 / EU) and the Habitats Directive (92/43 / EEC) are the two main basic pieces of legislation.

      The Birds Directive protects all wild birds in Europe. Calls on the Member States to designate "Special Protection Areas" for 194 particularly endangered species, as well as for all migratory species. Prohibits activities that directly threaten birds. Limits the number of bird species and the periods during which they can be hunted.

      The Habitats Directive ensures the conservation of rare, endangered or endemic species, including approximately 450 animals and 500 plants. It also protects about 200 rare and typical Habitat types.

      The Habitats Directive also establishes the Natura 2000 sites, the EU's network of protected natural areas. The Natura 2000 network aims to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and endangered species and habitats.

      2.4. Invasive Species

      The Regulation (EU) no. 1143/2014 on invasive alien species, entered into force on 1 January 2015. The Regulation aims to address the problem of invasive alien species in such a way as to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimize and mitigating their effects on human health or the economic impact that these species may have.

      The Regulation provides for three types of interventions: prevention, early detection and rapid elimination, and management. It also provides for the compilation and management of a list of invasive alien species of Union interest, in cooperation with the Member States, on the basis of their risk assessment and relevant scientific evidence.

      2.5. Inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)

      The land use, land use change and forestry (‘LULUCF’) sector has the potential to provide long-term climate benefits, and thereby to contribute to the achievement of the Union’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, as well as to the long-term climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The LULUCF sector also provides bio- materials that can substitute fossil- or carbon-intensive materials and therefore plays an important role in the transition to a low greenhouse-gas-emitting economy. As removals through LULUCF are reversible, they should be treated as a separate pillar in the Union climate policy framework.
      EU legislation adopted in May 2018, EU Member States have to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from land use, land use change or forestry are offset by at least an equivalent removal of CO₂ from the atmosphere in the period 2021 to 2030.

      The Regulation on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) into the 2030 climate and energy framework was adopted by the Council on 14 May 2018, following the European Parliament vote on 17 April 2018.

      The Regulation implements the agreement between EU leaders in October 2014 that all sectors should contribute to the EU's 2030 emission reduction target, including the land use sector. It is also in line with the Paris Agreement, which points to the critical role of the land use sector in reaching our long-term climate mitigation objectives.

      As derived from the EU Regulation, Member States should submit to the Commission national forestry accounting plans, including forest reference levels. In the absence of the international review under the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol, a review procedure should be established to ensure transparency and improve the quality of accounting in the category of managed forest land. Each Member State shall account for emissions and removals resulting from managed forest land, calculated as emissions and removals in the periods from 2021 to 2025 and from 2026 to 2030 minus the value obtained by multiplying by five the forest reference level of the Member State concerned.

      Member States were required to submit to the Commission their national forestry accounting plans, including a proposed forest reference level, by 31 December 2018 for the period from 2021 to 2025. For the period from 2026 to 2030 Member States are required to submit their forestry accounting plans by 30 June 2023.

      The National Forest Accounting Plan of Cyprus for the period 2021 to 2025, was submitted to the Commission in March 2018. In December 2019, the National Forest Accounting Plan of Cyprus was revised as provided in the Regulation (EU) 2018/841.

      2.6. Marketing of Forest Reproductive Material (FRM)

      The Council Directive 1999/105/EC, of 22nd December 1999, “on the marketing of Forest Reproductive Material” refers to the forest reproductive material of those tree species and their artificial hybrids which are important for forestry purposes in all or part of the Community. The FRM material which satisfies the requirements of the above council directive can be disposed in the market. FRM from third countries can be disposed in the community market only when satisfies the requirements of the Council Directive.

      The Council Directive 1999/105/EC was incorporated in the national legislation through the “Production, Marketing and Controls of Forest Reproductive Material Regulations of 2003, (ΚΔΠ 285/2003) (in Greek)”, according to the article 11 of “The Production, Marketing and Controls of Plant Reproductive Material (Amendment) Regulations of 2007 (ΚΔΠ 202/2007) (in Greek)”. The competent authority of the above directive is the Department of Agriculture, whereas enforcement is a responsibility of the Department of Forests.

      2.7. Protective measures against the introduction and spread into the community of organisms harmful to plants and plant products (Council Directive 2000/29/EC)

      The Council Directive 2000/29/EC of 8th May 2000 “on protective measures against the introduction into the community of organisms harmful to plants and plant products and against their spread within the community” refers to measures against the introduction into the community of organisms harmful to plants and plant products (timber, WPM etc.) originated from member states or from third countries. The establishment of the above organisms (insects, fungi, nematodes, mycoplasmas, virus and bacteria) into the community, outside their native distribution, may cause extent damages in areas because where natural enemies are not present.

      The Law 147 (I) of 2003 “on protective measures against the introduction and spread into the community of organisms harmful to plants and plant products” and their amendments Law 93 (I) of 2005, Law 91 (I) 2011 and Law 60 (I) 2012 “on protective measures against the introduction and spread into the community of organisms harmful to plants and plant products” incorporate the provisions of the Directive into the national legislation.

      The Department of Forests has a close cooperation with the competent authority (Department of Agriculture) and, both take preventive measures against the introduction of harmful organisms to the forests. Such preventive measures refer to the systematic official inspections of plants and plant products introduced from third countries or from member states and the monitoring of forests by establishing pheromone traps.

      2.8. Action plan for combating illegal logging and subsequent trade

      Responding to public concerns on severe environmental damage caused by illegal logging and deforestation, the European Commission adopted in 2003 the Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT).

      The main objective of the Action Plan is to ensure that timber exported from third countries to the EU has been legally harvested. By achieving this goal, is promoted the responsible management of forests.

      The Action Plan consists of two basic elements, the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) and the European Timber Regulation (EUTR). The Voluntary Partnership Agreements provide for the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme under which the timber shipments from third countries which have concluded bilateral agreements with the EU, will be accompanied by a FLEGT license. The FLEGT licenses will certify that the timber has been harvested legally in accordance with the relevant national legislation.

      The Council in 2005 adopted Regulation (EC) No. 2173 establishing the legal framework for imports into the EU timber from countries that have concluded bilateral FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with the EU. Furthermore, in 2008, the Commission adopted Regulation (EC) No. 1024/2008 laying down detailed measures for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No. 2173/2005 on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community.

      The Law 125 (I) of 2010 "On the application of the FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Union Law of 2010" constitute the national legislation for the harmonization with the Council Regulation (EC) No. 2173/2005 and Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1024/2008. Among others, the Law 125(I)/2010, appoints the Forestry Department as the competent authority for the implementation of both of the same Law and the Regulations (EC) No. 2173/2005 and (EC) No. 1024/2008.

      In addition to the FLEGT license, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe have adopted the Regulation (EU) No. 995/2010. This regulation defines the basic obligations of the operators (natural or legal persons) who place timber and timber products in the market. More specifically provides for:
      • The prohibition on the EU market for the first time, illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber
      • The imposition to the operators, the use of a due diligence system, through which the legality of timber and timber products will be controlled and
      • The obligation for merchants and traders to keep records for their customers and suppliers.

      Timber and timber products covered by this Regulation, as listed in annex, includes: Firewood, logs, wood in the rough, sawn timber, sheets for veneering, plywood, plates and particle board (chipboard, MDF, OSB), pulp, wood furniture, prefabricated buildings, etc. The used timber and waste wood products that have completed their life cycle are excluded. Wood and wood products covered by valid FLEGT or CITES certificate, is considered to comply with the requirements of this Regulation.

      For the uniform application of the timber Regulation (Reg. (EU) 995/2010), by all MS, the Commission has adopted the
      Delegated Regulation (EU) No 363/2012 of 23 February 2012 on the procedural rules for the recognition and withdrawal of recognition of monitoring organizations and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 607/2012 of 6 July 2012 on the rules concerning the due diligence system and the frequency and the nature of checks on monitoring organizations as provided for in Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market.

      The Law 139 (I) / 2013 "On the control of trade of timber and timber products Law of 2013" constitute the national legislation for the harmonization with the European Timber Regulation. Under this law, the Forestry Department designated as the competent authority for implementation of the Law, as well as the European Timber Regulation. This law strengthens and regulates the supervision and control of the timber trade at the national level and establishes rules for determining dissuasive sanctions in cases of violation of the provisions of the Rules.

      The European Timber Regulation is legally binding for the 27 EU member states and entered into force on 3rd of March, 2013.

      2.9. International Tropical Timber Agreement

      The International Tropical Timber Agreement of 2006 (ITTA 2006) was approved on the 27th of January 2006 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in order to replace the International Agreement of 1994.

      This Agreement aims to the economic development of all these countries producing tropical timber through its trade and the protection of tropical forests through their sustainable management.

      The signing of the International Agreement on Tropical Timber by the European Union took place in November 2007 and approved by Council Decision 5812/11.

      Furthermore, the European Community declaration, defines the powers delegated by the Member States to the European Community in areas covered by the agreement. More specifically:
      • with regard to trade issues, the EU has exclusive competence under the common commercial policy;
      • for environment and development cooperation, the European Community shall exercise powers together with the Member States.

      At national level the decision to ratify the Agreement approved by the Council of Ministers on December 5, 2007. In 2008, the House of Representatives voted on the International Agreement on Tropical Timber (Ratification) Law 11(III) of 2008. A competent authority for the purposes of this Agreement has been appointed the Department of Forests of Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.

      The International Agreement on Tropical Timber of 2006 (ITTA 2006) finally came into force in December 2011 replacing the previous agreement of 1994 (ITTA 1994).

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