TALLINN - At the EU Agricultural and Fisheries Council, Estonia introduced its positions regarding the new EU forest strategy for 2030 and supported approving the council's conclusions.
"We share the positions of the Council's conclusions that forests and the forestry sector may have an important role in EU's transition to a sustainable bioeconomy and that research and innovation have an important role in meeting the goals in the strategy," Estonian Minister of the Environment Tonis Molder said.
"In the light of the European Green Deal and achieving climate neutrality, we must also pay attention to the potential and competitiveness of forests and the forestry sector in replacing fossil and carbon-intensive materials," he said.
The minister also highlighted the socioeconomic function of forests.
"Forests offer a variety of benefits, including additional jobs and opportunities for economic growth in rural areas, and we must not forget about its recreational function, either, which supports people's physical and mental health," he said.
Estonia is cautious with regard to several initiatives in the strategy that are likely to either bring an additional administrative burden to the public and private sector or reduce states' powers in matters related to forestry.
"We're expecting more information from the European Commission in this regard and more efficient cooperation in the future. We mustn't underestimate the importance of member states' competence," Molder said.
"Forests, their protection and use varies across Europe to a great degree -- each state has its own history and traditions with forestry and they must be taken into consideration," the minister said. "Thus, shaping the forestry policy, including development plans, must continuously be decided by each state on their own also in the future."
Estonia was represented at the EU Agricultural and Fisheries Council by Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse.
On July 16, 2021, the Commission published the new EU forest strategy for 2030 -- one of the flagship initiatives of the European Green Deal which builds on the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030. The strategy sets a vision and concrete actions to improve the quantity and quality of EU forests and strengthen their protection, restoration and resilience. It aims to adapt Europe's forests to the new conditions, weather extremes and high uncertainty brought about by climate change. The strategy includes an action plan that will see at least three billion additional trees planted in the EU by 2030.