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Author: Filip Aggestam

The Art of the “Green” Deal

New study on policy pathways for a third EU Forest Strategy out now

The European Green Deal is being promoted as a cornerstone for European policy over the next five years, setting out an ambitious package of measures that aim to facilitate a sustainable green transition in the EU. One of the many actions highlighted under the Green Deal is the third EU Forest Strategy, a non-legally binding (or soft) policy instrument for which the European Commission will prepare a proposal in 2021.

The ongoing policy discussion in Brussels is set against the backdrop of a new EU Biodiversity Strategy, an EU taxonomy for sustainable activities, the 2050 Climate Change Mitigation Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the recently adopted Adaptation Strategy. All these initiatives (and more) are being pushed as components of the Green Deal. However, whether and how these initiatives and strategies will influence the new EU Forest Strategy is still an unknown.

We have set out to investigate how forests have been framed in the Green Deal and to cast light on its potential role in the development of the third EU Forest Strategy – and our paper The ‘Art of the “Green” Deal – Policy pathways for a third EU Forest Strategy’ summarizing our study results has just been published in Forest Policy and Economics.

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Downloading Europe: A Regional Comparison in the Uptake of the EU Forest Action Plan

The first EU Forest Strategy was adopted in 1998 to provide general guidelines for an EU forest policy designed to coordinate other EU forest-relevant policies. The implementation of the first strategy was done under the auspices of the EU Forest Action Plan, covering the period from 2007 to 2011. The Forest Action Plan was a tool that facilitated voluntary cooperation between EU Member States (no enforcement capabilities), with some coordinating actions being implemented by the European Commission.

The paper “Downloading Europe: A Regional Comparison in the Uptake of the EU Forest Action Plan”, published in the journal Sustainability, returns to the EU Forest Action Plan to provide further insight into how it translated into an EU Member State context. Most articles concerned with the analysis of forest-relevant policies in the EU focus on analyzing EU decision-making impacts on a national level, or vice versa, but not how Member States embrace EU strategies from a comparative perspective. This paper addresses this empirical gap and provides insight into whether Europeanization effects are comparable, irrespective of whether EU Member States are deciding upon and implementing a legally binding or non-legally binding EU policy instrument.

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Can nature conservation and wood production be reconciled in managed forests?

Integrated forest management (IFM) can help reconcile critical trade-offs between goals in forest management, such as nature conservation and biomass production. The challenge of IFM is dealing with these trade-offs at the level of practical forest management, such as striving for compromises between biomass extraction and habitat retention. With this background in mind, the paper “Can nature conservation and wood production be reconciled in managed forests? A review of driving factors for integrated forest management in Europe”, which is published in the Journal of Environmental Management, reviews some of the driving factors that influence the integration of nature conservation into forest management.

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Deconstructing a complex future for the forest-based sector

Informed decision-making requires information from both past experiences and knowledge about the future. This also applies to forest-based sector – especially when considering challenges like climate change mitigation or biodiversity conservation. While the future can be difficult to predict, one way to analyse it is to use scenario-planning methods. However, the use of scenario is also a process of priority-setting, more specifically, scenarios are a reflection of sectoral, public and other development priorities. Having this in mind, the paper Deconstructing a complex future: Scenario development and implications for the forest-based sector which is published in Forest Policy and Economics reviews how the use of scenarios may affect EU forest-related policy.

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