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EURAF in Brussels to discuss Forestry and Cork

by Gerry Lawson and Anastasia Pantera
Gerry Lawson (UK) and Anastasia Pantera (Greece) represented EURAF at a meeting of the Forestry and Cork Civil Dialogue Group, in Brussels on 28th November. With these CDG meetings the European commission wants to establish a regular dialogue with non-governmental organizations, socioeconomic interest groups, civil society organizations, and trade unions concerning the development and implementation of the common agricultural policy CAP).
Discussions in the morning focused mainly on the the EC publication on  “A Sustainable Bioeconomy for Europe: Strengthening the connection between economy, society and the environment” and on the draft CAP Strategic Plan Regulation.
The EURAF team noted that:
  1. the Bioeconomy Strategy had highlighted significant uncertainties in the estimates of biomass production in Europe - with one of the largest uncertainties being the production of agroforestry and trees outside the forest.
  2. the low environmental footprint of timber and modern engineered timber products was insufficiently stressed in the Bioeconomy Strategy;
  3. some countries (e.g. Ireland, Netherland and Finland) had been permitted to remove forestry expenditure from the current CAP, and this may have had a negative impact on target setting and coordinated planning at the interface between between agriculture and forestry - unfortunately this comparmentalised thinking seemed likely to continue in the new CAP;
  4. no attempt was being made improve and coordinate the recording of Landscape Features and Agroforestry in the Land Parcel Identification Systems of Member States, and this lack of ambition would make agri-environment-climate “payment by results” schemes extremely difficult to implement.
The most interesting part of the afternoon’s discussion was a very early opportunity to discuss the EU’s 2050 Strategy for Long-term EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions.  EURAF had little time to read this. We welcomed the mentions of agroforestry which it contained, but felt that the potential contribution of agroforestry to GHG emissions reduction had been greatly underestimated.
A full report on this meeting will be circulated to EURAF members, through national delegates, as soon as possible.