Following the publication by the European Commission on November 17 of a draft regulation on deforestation, the Confederation of European Paper Industries, Cepi, comments on the EU executive arm’s new proposal.
The upcoming regulation is aiming to minimise the risk that commodities associated with deforestation and forest degradation are placed on the EU market. A timely step demonstrating the EU’s commitment to halt global forest loss, and which follows a recent COP26 pledge by more than 100 countries to halt global deforestation that was also countersigned by the European Union.
The European Pulp and Paper Industry has a strategic interest in keeping global forest growing and healthy. Its commitment to sustainable forest management practices has propelled its involvement in effective reforestation, regeneration of harvested areas and the preservation of biodiversity and valuable habitats.
The positive experience of the EU Timber Regulation, introduced a decade ago to prevent illegally logged timber to be used on EU markets, proves that the Union can lead by example and use regulation to stimulate better forest governance in trade partner countries. This is a domain where Cepi and its members have considerable experience, having supported since decades the uptake of third–party verified forest certification to prove responsible forest management.
However, Cepi considers that, to make real changes when tackling commodity–induced deforestation, it is crucial that efforts target the real drivers of problem. Agricultural commodities driving land conversion play a major role when it comes to embodied deforestation associated to EU imports. From a global perspective, a recent international assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) confirmed that the role of agriculture in global deforestation is even more detrimental than previously thought. It presently accounts for 90% of global deforestation. In this, the EU partnerships for development are vital in mitigating unsustainable pressures on forest land.
Cepi welcomes the fact that the new EU draft regulation endorses internationally agreed, well–established FAO definitions of forest and deforestation. This ensures clarity and consistency with other forest–related international processes. However, Cepi underlines that there needs to be more discussion on the burden put on wood products, an efficient approach would put more emphasis on tackling the main systemic drivers behind deforestation: agricultural expansion and poverty.
Cepi also stresses the importance of avoiding an unnecessarily increase of burden for local operators. To this aim, the Regulation must provide the possibility of using existing global forest certification schemes, such as the one of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), as valid tools to assess and mitigate risks connected to deforestation and forest degradation.
“We welcome impactful and targeted action to tackle the EU footprint on global deforestation”, commented Cepi Director General Jori Ringman, “and this is best done by focusing on the most important causes. This is vital for our sector as our industry, our investments, our future totally depend on maintaining healthy forests.”