“We need to see the full potential of the forestry sector in climate change mitigation and in the development of the local and regional bioeconomy. The carbon sequestration in the forest, product use and bioenergy from the forest can contribute to reducing climate impact as well as creating new jobs.”

Asa Agren Wikström, Member of Västerbotten County Council and Rapporteur for the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) Opinion on ‘Revision of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and Effort Sharing regulations’ made these remarks when presenting here opinion during a CoR Plenary session.

In her opinion, the rapporteur acknowledges the devastating effects of climate change on local communities and recognises the need for strong actions to achieve the necessary EU climate targets. Wikström stressed that climate change is a trans-boundary problem which cannot be solved by national or local action alone. “All sectors of the economy need to contribute to emission reduction and at the same time balancing fairness and solidarity. The necessary transformation must be fact-based and engage local and regional authorities (LRAs).”

The opinion points out that whilst the CoR supports a high-level commitment on LULUCF it also reiterates the need for flexibility in way of achieving targets. Furthermore, it stresses that LRAs have a decisive role in the sectors covered by the Effort Sharing Regulation and the LULUCF Regulation, as these regulations require the inclusion of the territorial dimension. It calls for territorial impact assessments on individual farmers and foresters which could provide a clearer overview of the real costs and benefits.

In her opinion, Wikström strongly opposes the fact that the proposal mainly focuses on forests as carbon sinks, not considering their role in providing sustainable raw material for substitution of fossil alternatives, thus failing to appreciate the full potential of the forestry sector in climate change mitigation and in the development of the local and regional bioeconomy.

The CoR recognises the need to inform LRAs of the funding possibilities to support climate action. Furthermore, it recognises the need for solutions, in particular revenue generating incentives, to the problem of those regions which may experience difficulties or decline in the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy.

During a debate on the EU forest strategy, State Minister Melanie Huml, Bavarian State Government said “The European Commission’s approach in the forest strategy falls short. A holistic approach to integrative, sustainable forest management of protection and use is needed. From our point of view, the balance between the ecological, economic and social demands on the forest is crucial.”

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