Today the EU Strategy for Europe’s Forests was published.
The text of the strategy is not ambiguous and the statistics are worth noting. Much of it is a ‘wikipedia’ style of introducing Europe’s forests and European forestry. Is there is anything to celebrate however, beyond the work of those who have managed to get this finally published?
It is disappointing and a sad result of modern politics and PR that so many new publications, including even scientific ones have replaced all ‘must’ and ‘will’s’ with ‘encouraged to’ and ‘should’s’. Voluntary action is the supposed new path to progression and the lengthy negotiations needed even to get to first edit mean it is well out of date before it is published.
And the EU forest strategy, what should have been a rallying cry for firm action towards the protection of forests in Europe and a platform towards real legal powers, is therefore nothing more than an out of date statement. I could be and hope to be wrong but I fear this strategy which has involved so many and cost so much is actually little more than a useful ‘link to’ for some in the periphery (particularly in ‘offsets’) of the forest industry.
It is quite clear that when talking about forests and forestry in Europe, one must consider or even lead with discussion on protecting non woodland trees. It is also essential to consider the amenity value of these behemoths of all European landscapes. Any policy based on trees and wood products needs to integrate the society surrounding the trees in the present and in the future.
The nod towards the past and the recognition of cultural values of trees and forests is great, but isn’t it a little embarrassing to ourselves when we read Hans Carl von Carlowitz or John Evelyn to discover we haven’t progressed at all in policy terms. But I know forestry and arboriculture have advanced in terms of knowledge and practice.
In fact if the industry and professionals within it had not advanced it would be doubtful that there would be any decent forests left at all in Europe.
The EU Forest Strategy will be ignored by many because it has ignored them as it had to in order to ever get published. I think we should work towards a Strategy for Europe’s Trees which will help toughen up this Forest Strategy.