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    Why we need to discuss forest management?

    FOREST EUROPE is leading a Think Tank and forum for debate on Sustainable Forest Management. The orientation that a Think Tank provides increases in times of pressing demands on forest ecosystem services and inequitable impact of climate change on forest health.

    Experts from FOREST EUROPE signatory countries and observer organizations participated in a virtual gathering 22-23 February 2022 to exchange ideas about the robustness of the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) concept in the wake of climate change and increasing demands of forest services.

    The concept has been in place for more than 30 years (see the Helsinki Resolution) and has made it possible to have a common approach for dialogue, monitoring (including the publication of the State of Europe’s Forests report since 2003), and policy-making across Europe.

    Similar concepts, directly or indirectly related to forests and forest resources, such as climate-smart forestry, close-to-nature forest management, or multifunctional forest management, are commonly used today. This gives rise to misunderstandings, often linked to varying definitions, data sources, and interpretations, as well as deep differences in values and priorities.

    This also creates difficulties for both policy-makers and the public to resolve the inevitable trade-offs. Ideally, policy-making and public debate should be evidence based, and there should be a consensus about what the broad situation is and what the underlying drivers are. There are heated arguments about the use of forests in the debate about wood production, climate change mitigation, and the obligation to protect the biodiversity. For instance, setting aside forest areas for biodiversity or carbon sequestration will reduce the abilities to reach a bioeconomy that pursues a fossil-free vision. These trade-offs have to be actively addressed and balanced.

    Balancing the different claims on forests and their ecosystem services is a complex task that requires transparent and balanced handling of trade-offs occurring in forest land use, management and value chains. This also requires the best available data, so that SFM reporting can be more complete and impactful, e.g. by target-based assessments.

    SFM is a dynamic concept. It is important to constantly revisit the understanding of it, its linkages to other concepts, its strengths and weaknesses, and its potential to serve as a balancing tool to continuously moderate the various and varying claims on forests and forest resources. We want to keep it fit for the future.

    Resources

    Linser, S.; Wolfslehner, B. National Implementation of the Forest Europe Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. Forests 2022, 13, 191. https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020191

    Lier, M.; Köhl, M.; Korhonen, K.T.; Linser, S.; Prins, K.; Talarczyk, A. The New EU Forest Strategy for 2030: A New Understanding of Sustainable Forest Management? Forests 2022, 13, 245. https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020245

    Lier, M.; Köhl, M.; Korhonen, K.T.; Linser, S.; Prins, K. 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102481

    Pötzelsberger, E.; Bauhus, J.; Muys, B.; Wunder, S.; Bozzano, M.; Farsakoglou, A-M.; Schuck, A.; Lindner, M. and Lapin, K. 2021 Forest biodiversity in the spotlight – what drives change? European Forest Institute. https://doi.org/10.36333/rs2