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    Exploring the Impact of EU’s Forest Policy: A Deep Dive into the Consequences

    The package of regulations that the EU is preparing as part of its climate and biodiversity policy also has numerous consequences. The authors of recipes for saving the climate and nature are scrupulously silent on these.

    To begin with, let us recall which regulations are involved.

    Within the framework of the European Green Deal and the so-called ‘Fit for 55’ package, the European Union formulates rules and recommendations for nature and climate protection. 

    The most important of these are:

    • Biodiversity Strategy 2030,
    • the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation abbreviated as LULUCF,
    • the new EU Forestry Strategy 2030.

    To strengthen nature and climate protection, the EU recommends that at least 30% of the EU’s land areas be placed under legal protection and that ecological corridors be introduced as part of the Natura network. This means strictly protecting – i.e. leaving alone – at least 1/3 of EU protected areas, including all remaining so-called primary forests and old-growth forests in the EU.

    In Poland, this ambitious goal can be realised almost exclusively in the area of state-owned forests. Up to one-third of the forests may be excluded from use and free access to them at least be restricted.

    What could this really mean?

    Decline in timber harvesting means increased imports from other parts of the world

    An estimated 188 million m3 will have to be imported into the EU, primarily from North America, India and Brazil. This will result in:

    • a significant increase in CO2 emissions due to deforestation and as a result of long-distance shipping,
    • threatened forest biodiversity outside the European Union,
    • substitution of wood by other raw materials – plastic, glass, metal, rubber, concrete, petroleum products, etc. 

    Passive protection means setting in motion processes of forest decline and the climate 

    Leaving forests to their own devices risks serious natural losses because:

    • loss of opportunities to sustain biodiversity,
    • dying forests will cease to absorb CO2 and become a CO2 emitters, they will lose their ability to mitigate climate change,
    • reduced water retention capacity, mitigation of daily temperature amplitude, loss of beneficial effects on air quality, and activation of erosion processes.

    Subordination of forestry to climate targets and bureaucracy.

    • arbitrarily established uptake targets are unrealistic for Polish conditions, as they do not take into account the consequences of drought and rising temperatures,
    • introduce excessive administrative burdens, requiring the creation of additional institutions and posts,
    • dangerous ageing of Polish forests, which will be more susceptible to dying.

    Strict protection is a limitation of social functions.

    Today, access to multi-functional forests in Poland is almost unlimited. Strict protection means introducing rules as in a nature reserve,

    • no free movement outside a few designated routes,
    • exclusion of the area from mushroom and berry picking.

    Exclusion from forest management is a blow to the Polish economy.

    The decrease in timber harvesting in Poland will be up to 40%, i.e. by around 20 million m3. And this means:

    • the dismissal of more than 200,000 people employed in the timber industry,
    • a decrease in the share of employees in the timber industry in total industry from 12.5% to 6%,
    • closure of 90% of small family businesses located in rural areas.

    Polish forestry model

    In Poland, forests are 80% owned by the state, so the direction the EU is taking is to dismantle the Polish forestry model.
    
    Poland has developed its own solutions that favour forest protection and has already implemented the EU's Natura 2000 nature conservation system - as much as 38% is covered by Natura 2000,
    
    - the area and abundance of our forests is steadily growing; the area has increased by half since World War II, the abundance has more than tripled,
    
    - we have the largest populations of key biodiversity species in the region (European bison, wolf, bear, white-tailed eagle)
    State Forests / press material

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