VILNIUS – The European Union has endorsed a new Forest Strategy for 2030 that sets out plans to protect old forests and plant 3 billion new trees, as well as to avoid clear-cuts, where possible.
The new strategy was endorsed on Wednesday and on Friday presented by Lithuanian EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, in charge of environment, oceans and fisheries.
In his words, the main principle of this strategy is that forests play an important role in the implementation of the EU's climate change goals.
"If we don't have a forest ecosystem of proper, good quality, we cannot expect it to perform functions related to the storage of CO2," Sinkevicius told BNS on Friday.
Strong protection of Europe's old forests is one of the strategy's key goals, expected to be implemented by the end of this year, the European commissioner said.
"We are speaking about those 3 percent of the remaining old forests. Naturally, that protection is necessary. By the end of this year, we will complete the definition and together with other member states we will define where those forests are and, of course, we will ensure their proper protection," Sinkevicius said.
"The second major and ambitious goal is to additionally plant 3 billion trees over the next decade. Naturally, we need to do that based on environmental principles as several planted trees do not become a forest, therefore, we want to stress not only the importance of planting trees but also the fact that only a fully-established ecosystem can be called a forest," he said.
In his words, a platform will come online as early as October, used to identify territories where trees could be planted. Public organizations, institutions and other organizations will be able to get involved in this project.
Some parts of the new strategy will remain as recommendations for member states as they cannot be applied universally to all 27 EU member states. But the remaining provisions, like the protection of old forests, will be mandatory and clearly defined.
The new Forest Strategy is part of the European Green Deal.