Forestry is a national competence even though EU environmental, agricultural and energy policies do concern forestry.
In 2013, the EU institutions adopted the EU Timber Regulation which prohibits illegally harvested timber, and products derived from such timber, from entering the EU market. In order to harmonise with legislation that governs timber from outside the EU, the EU is in the process of adopting the EU Deforestation and Forest Degradation Regulation (EUDR).
In 2021, the Commission adopted a new EU strategy for forests which outlines different goals and priorities and calls on the Member States to develop policies that support sustainable forest management. The European Commission, Member States and Stakeholders will develop objective, ambitious and demonstrable EU sustainable forest management criteria that can be applied regardless of the end use of forest biomass.
The forestry sector is also covered at EU level by the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation. In 2018, the LULUCF-Regulation set the binding commitment that total emissions from forestry are balanced and do not exceed CO2 removals.
The role of biomass
Forest biomass is the most important bioenergy source and represents more than two thirds of EU bioenergy consumption. Wood fuels include wood chips, wood pellets and wood logs. For environmental and economic reasons, 74% of the primary material for pellets and 62% of the primary material for wood-for –energy-uses are by-products like bark, saw dust and wood chips from sawmills, pulp mills and wood-working industries.
Sustainable forest management is essential to guaranteeing that biomass used for energy purposes is sustainable. Sustainable forest management is ensured by national legislation, international commitments as well as voluntary certifications. Based on this existing framework, the Renewable Energy Directive introduces mandatory criteria for forest biomass, which needs to be respected via national laws and enforcement systems.