EU to set up a forest monitoring framework

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Since 2007, there have been no harmonised forest monitoring requirements at European level. As a result, there is no comparable data on the state of forests in the European Union.

The European Union aims to remedy this lack of data by establishing an EU Forest Monitoring Framework. Such a framework should provide better data and enable the assessment of the impact of EU policies on forests, including climate, forest, biodiversity, and rural development policies, as well as initiatives to prevent illegal logging. This new monitoring framework could also provide a better picture of future forest fires and support decision-making and better governance.

The initiative will complement the Forest Information System for Europe, the first common database on forest information in Europe, data from the EU’s Earth observation and monitoring programme Copernicus, and the Joint Research Centre’s annual reports on forest fires in Europe.

In view of developing this European framework, the European Commission surveyed experts and citizens during a public consultation in 2022, for which the summary report is now available. As a result of the consultation, 92% of respondents agree that there is a need for EU-wide harmonised and timely information on forest health and forest disturbances, including forest fires.

Of the indicators proposed by the European Commission in the consultation, the need for indicators on pest and disease outbreaks and forest fires were most favoured by respondents. 86% and 77% of respondents respectively consider these to be important indicators to monitor, ahead of the presence of red listed species, tree age diversity, forest age or forest revenues, among others.

It is interesting to note that among the different profiles of respondents, forest owners consider it particularly important to collect harmonised data on forest fires. It is also noteworthy that less than 50% of the respondents seem to be satisfied with the way forest fire data is monitored in their country.

So how will forest data be collected under this new forest monitoring framework? Member States already collect some forest data, and it has not yet been decided whether the new European framework will integrate and harmonise these data or create entirely new standardised datasets.

These elements will be clarified in the coming months in the European Commission’s legislative proposal, which is expected before the summer.

This new initiative could help to improve awareness, communication, and decision-making on forest fires in Europe. For more information on fires, subscribe to our newsletter!

Author: Blandine Camus (Euromontana)