Target 3b

Target 3b: Increase the contribution of forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity: “By 2020, Forest Management Plans or equivalent instruments, in line with Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), are in place for all forests that are publicly owned and for forest holdings above a certain size** (to be defined by the Member States or regions and communicated in their Rural Development Programmes) that receive funding under the EU Rural Development Policy so as to bring about a measurable improvement(*) in the conservation status of species and habitats that depend on or are affected by forestry and in the provision of related ecosystem services as compared to the EU 2010 Baseline. (*) Improvement is to be measured against the quantified enhancement targets for the conservation status of species and habitats of EU importance in Target 1 and the restoration of degraded ecosystems under Target 2. (**) For smaller forest holdings, Member States may provide additional incentives to encourage the adoption of Management Plans or equivalent instruments that are in line with SFM.”

According to the IPBES (2018) Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia (https://www.ipbes.net/assessment-reports/eca), land use change is the major driver of biodiversity loss of both biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe. Production-based subsidies have led to intensification in agriculture and forestry, and together with urban development, has led to biodiversity decline. In addition, the report concluded that the EU Renewable Energy Directive (2009) has driven an increase in biofuel production and consumption in Western and Central Europe. There is a risk biofuel production can compete with food production as well as negatively affect biodiversity, both within the EU and further afield. In some widely-forested countries, a large proportion of total energy consumption originates from forest biomass (e.g. 30% in Sweden) (Hansen & Malmaeus, 2016).

EU forest area has increased as compared with the EU 2010 biodiversity baseline. However, the ecological condition of forests is of concern. Although the conservation status of forest habitats and species is of less concern than some other habitats (e.g. agricultural habitats) a significant proportion of habitats and species of EU importance have an unfavourable conservation status and show no significant signs of improvement.

The EU has limited competency over forest policy, and its main influence on forest biodiversity is through the Birds and Habitats Directives. Other measures that can support biodiversity in forests are CAP Rural Development Payments, forest management plans and the EU Forest Strategy. However, CAP forest payments are little used by Member States, forest management plans are not developed for all forests and they do not always give sufficient weight to biodiversity requirements, and the practical added value of the EU Forest Strategy does not appear to be substantial. Therefore, more initiatives and efforts are required to achieve the target, especially in forest areas outside the Natura 2000 network.

According to the IPBES (2018) Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia (https://www.ipbes.net/assessment-reports/eca), land use change is the major driver of biodiversity loss of both biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe. Production-based subsidies have led to intensification in agriculture and forestry, and together with urban development, has led to biodiversity decline. In addition, the report concluded that the EU Renewable Energy Directive (2009) has driven an increase in biofuel production and consumption in Western and Central Europe. There is a risk biofuel production can compete with food production as well as negatively affect biodiversity, both within the EU and further afield. In some widely-forested countries, a large proportion of total energy consumption originates from forest biomass (e.g. 30% in Sweden) (Hansen & Malmaeus, 2016).

Indicators used in this assessment

SEBI 001: Abundance and distribution of selected species (i.e. farmland and forest birds, grassland butterflies)

SEBI 003: Species of European interest (i.e. conservation status of forest and agricultural species)

SEBI 005: Habitats of European interest (i.e. conservation status of forest and agricultural habitats)

SEBI 017: Forest growing stock, increment and fellings

SEBI 018: Forest deadwood

Relevant websites, links, and files

Commission Staff Working Document (2015), EU Assessment of Progress in Implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

EEA (2015), Technical report on State of Nature in the EU

IPBES (2018), Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia