Tag Archives: Biodiversity

European Union forest action plan

European Union forest action plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Union forest action plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

European Union forest action plan

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 June 2006 on an EU Forest Action Plan [COM(2006) 302 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Forests are an important sphere for the European Union (EU): they cover 37.8 % of European territory and provide a living for 3.4 million people (forestry and forest-based industries). Moreover, the EU is the second-largest producer of industrial round timber after the United States and produces approximately 80 % of the world’s cork. In the context of climate change, forests also play an important role – not only as regards trapping carbon, but also through the production of biomass *, and their potential in terms of renewable forms of energy. Lastly, forests are socially and culturally important: attractive to city dwellers, they provide opportunities for recreational and healthy activities and represent a not inconsiderable cultural heritage.

The European Commission has therefore set four main objectives to be implemented in order to optimise the sustainable management and multifunctional role of the EU’s forests:

  • improving long-term competitiveness;
  • improving and protecting the environment;
  • contributing to a better quality of life;
  • fostering communication and coordination in order to increase consistency and cooperation at various levels.

These objectives translate into a series of 18 key actions, which the European Commission and the Member States will implement jointly. The action plan also provides for additional measures, which the Member States can implement depending on their specific characteristics and their priorities, in some cases with the aid of existing Community instruments.

Improving long-term competitiveness

The competitiveness of forestry is essential. The sector has great potential to develop new products and services of high quality in response to growing demand as a source of renewable raw material. The Commission proposes five key actions for this objective:

  • Key action 1: The Commission will carry out a study on the effects of globalisation on the competitiveness of EU forestry in order to identify the main factors influencing developments in the EU forest sector and to underpin discussions on further action to be taken to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of the sector;
  • Key action 2: Encourage research and technological development to enhance the competitiveness of the forest sector (including through the 7th Research Framework Programme);
  • Key action 3: Exchange and assess experiences on the valuation and marketing of non-wood forest goods and services: the aim is to quantify the total value of forests and their functions, in order to introduce instruments to compensate for non-marketed goods and services;
  • Key action 4: Promote the use of forest biomass for energy generation;
  • Key action 5: Foster cooperation between forest owners and enhance education and training in forestry.

Improving and protecting the environment

The overall objective is to maintain and appropriately enhance biodiversity, carbon sequestration, integrity, health and resilience of forest ecosystems at various geographical scales. In this regard, the Commission proposes the following key actions:

  • Key action 6: Facilitate EU Member States’ compliance with the obligations on climate change mitigation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol and encourage adaptation to the effects of climate change;
  • Key action 7: Contribute towards achieving the revised Community biodiversity objectives for 2010 and beyond;
  • Key action 8: Work towards a European Forest Monitoring System, following completion of the Forest Focus monitoring scheme;
  • Key action 9: Enhance the protection of EU forests.

In addition, Member States may – with the support of the EAFRD and the instrument Life+ – promote measures in favour of forests (Natura 2000), agri-forestry systems, support restoration of forests damaged by natural disasters and fire, support studies on the causes of forest fires, awareness-raising campaigns.

Contributing to a better quality of life

The Commission considers it important to preserve and support the cultural and social dimension of forests. To do so, it has identified the following key actions:

  • Key action 10: Encourage environmental education and information;
  • Key action 11: Maintain and enhance the protective functions of forests;
  • Key action 12: Explore the potential of urban and peri-urban forests.

In addition, Member States may – with support from the ERDF – enhance investment and sustainable management of forests for better prevention of natural disasters.

Fostering coordination and communication

While forest policy is a matter for the Member States, many initiatives with an impact on forest management are carried out at European level. This therefore requires improved coherence and cross-sectoral cooperation in order to balance economic, environmental and socio-cultural objectives at different organisational and institutional levels.

  • Key action 13: Strengthen the role of the Standing Forestry Committee *;
  • Key action 14: Strengthen coordination between policy areas in forest-related matters;
  • Key action 15: Apply the open method of coordination to national forest programmes;
  • Key action 16: Strengthen the EU profile in international forest-related processes;
  • Key action 17: Encourage the use of wood and other forest products from sustainably managed forests;
  • Key action 18: Improve information exchange and communication. Inter alia, the European Commission will develop a website devoted to forest management at the Europa Internet site.

In addition, the Member States are encouraged to organise visibility events, such as a “Forest Week” or “Forest Day”, to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable forest management.

The Commission will carry out a mid-term evaluation of the action plan in 2009 and an overall evaluation in 2012.

Context

In December 1998 the Council adopted a resolution on a forestry strategy for the European Union. The Commission then submitted a report on the implementation of this strategy over five years and proposed inter alia launching an EU action plan on sustainable forest management. In May 2005 the Council meeting on agriculture and fisheries asked the Commission to draw up that action plan.

Key terms of the act
  • Biomass: all the organic plant and animal products used for energy (or agronomic) purposes.
  • Standing Forestry Committee (SFC): set up in 1989, it represents the EU Member States’ forestry authorities. It has 27 members (designated by the governments of the Member States) and is chaired by the European Commission. Its role is threefold: consultation and management in respect of specific forestry measures, ad hoc consultation forum providing an expert opinion when forestry measures are being devised within the framework of various Community policies, a place for the exchange of information between the Member States and the Commission. The SFC will be the body for coordination between the Commission and the Member States to enable implementation of the action plan.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 10 March 2005 – Reporting on the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy [COM(2005) 84 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 to the Council and the European Parliament: Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources (Volume II) [COM(2001) 162 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication is the second volume of the Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 on Biodiversity Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation. This volume is specifically dedicated to the conservation of natural resources.

Introduction

In recent decades, the rate of decline and even disappearance of species and related habitats, ecosystems and genes (i.e. biodiversity) has increased throughout the world. This loss of biodiversity is deplorable in itself and has adverse effects on economic development since it is the basis for the food, fibres, drink, medicines, industrial processes, agriculture and fisheries activities we rely on for our survival.

In February 1998, the Commission adopted a communication on a Community strategy for biodiversity. This strategy already provided for special action plans for the areas of activity concerned to be set up and implemented. This communication sets out the Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation.

The Community Biodiversity Strategy and the Action Plans are covered by the European Union commitment to achieve sustainable development and integrate environmental concerns into other sectoral policies and other policy areas.

Indicators will be used for the long-term monitoring and benchmarking of Action Plan implementation. These indicators, which still have to be specified by the Commission with the help of the Member States, scientists and organisations concerned, will be measured locally and results compared.

The European Community clearing house mechanism (EC CHM) is an invaluable resource for exchanging information on biodiversity. It should be supported and developed further.

The Commission is currently identifying biodiversity conservation research needs so as to include them in the Sixth European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

The Commission plans to set up a Committee of Experts on Biodiversity which would disseminate information and strive to ensure that European and national measures are complementary. Representatives of NGOs, industry, associations and any other interested parties would be invited to attend committee meetings as observers.

The natural resources volume of the communication stresses the following objectives: conservation of wild fauna and flora, preventing biodiversity loss related to the management of water, soil, forests and wetlands, preventing biodiversity loss throughout EU territory and conserving biodiversity worldwide. These objectives are explained in detail below.

The conservation of wild fauna and flora

The communication sets three main priorities to meet the objective of maintaining or improving the conservation status of natural habitats and wild animal and plant species: application of the Habitats and Birds Directives, establishment of networks such as Natura 2000 and financial and technical support for them, and formulating special action plans for threatened and huntable species.

The Communication highlights the objective of transposing the Habitats and Birds Directives properly into national legislation by 2002. It envisages a monitoring system with guidelines addressed to States and, moreover, the option of taking legal action against them. The annexes to both Directives will have to be amended in order to protect and take account of biodiversity in European Union candidate countries.

The communication sets the objective of adopting the list of Natura 2000 sites for all biogeographical regions, including forested areas, by the end of 2002. Guidelines will be drawn up for the administration of the network. The Commission will favour funding Natura 2000 through LIFE-Nature projects. The Commission points out the need for Community programmes to make an explicit commitment to protect the Natura 2000 network.

The Commission will finalise the Action Plans for the most threatened bird species and huntable species. Under international conventions, it will also collaborate in framing special action plans for threatened species other than birds.

Preventing biodiversity loss related to the management of water, soil, forests and wetlands

The communication proposes a three-pronged approach to reverse the current trends of biodiversity loss related to management of water, soil, forests and wetlands: using the Water Framework Directive, enhancing the ecological function of land cover and protecting wetlands.

The Water Framework Directive will be used as a tool for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. For every river basin, analyses will be carried out of water quality and quantity versus demand, and also water needs for irrigation, energy generation, drinking water consumption and industrial and ecological uses.

An information base will be set up and a public awareness campaign on the need for soil protection will be launched in order to enhance the ecological function of land cover to combat erosion. It will become mandatory to check the quality of the end-products of sewage sludge and biodegradable waste treatment. A communication will be published on the proper use of pesticides. Forest biological diversity will be included in rural development plans.

The Commission will protect biodiversity in wetlands through initiatives under Natura 2000, the Water Framework Directive and the Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

Reversing biodiversity loss across the whole territory

The communication highlights the following priority actions to develop instruments to improve the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on territory located outside protected areas: taking account of biodiversity in policies affecting soil such as agricultural policy, fisheries, aquaculture, Structural Funds and the urban environment, and incorporating biodiversity in cross-sectoral environmental measures.

In order to integrate biodiversity into cross-sectoral environmental measures, the objectives and actions detailed in the communication are based on the precautionary principle, environmental liability, environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment, public participation and access to information, eco-labelling, eco-auditing and the strategy for EU chemicals policy.

The actions on genetic resources outlined in the communication address alien invasive species, GMOs, zoos and botanical gardens.

Conserving biodiversity worldwide

The communication sets forth objectives and actions for the conservation of biodiversity worldwide targeted at applying the EC CITES Regulation, improving coordination within international forums in the fields of climate change, ozone layer depletion and desertification, and identifying interactions between the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international agreements in order to optimise the opportunities for synergy.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 21 December 2005: Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources [– Not published in the Official Journal].
This strategy creates a framework for action to reduce the burden on the environment from the production and consumption of natural resources without penalising economic development. Concerns about resources will be addressed in all relevant policies and specific measures will be put into effect, notably the setting up of a centre for data and indicators, a European forum and an international expert group.

Natural habitats

Natural habitats

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Natural habitats

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Natural habitats (Natura 2000)

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The continuing deterioration of natural habitats and the threats posed to certain species are one of the main concerns of European Union (EU) environment policy. This Directive, known as the Habitats Directive, is intended to help maintain biodiversity in the Member States by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of Community interest.

The Habitats Directive established the “Natura 2000” network. This network is the largest ecological network in the world. It comprises special areas of conservation designated by Member States under the current Directive. Furthermore, it also includes special protection areas classified pursuant to the “Wild birds” Directive 2009/147/EC.

Annexes I and II to the Directive contain the types of habitats and species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation. Some of them are defined as “priority” habitats or species (in danger of disappearing). Annex IV lists animal and plant species in need of particularly strict protection.

Special areas of conservation are designated in three stages. Following the criteria set out in the annexes, each Member State must draw up a list of sites hosting natural habitats and wild fauna and flora. On the basis of the national lists and by agreement with the Member States, the Commission will then adopt a list of sites of Community importance for each of the nine EU biogeographical regions (the Alpine region, the Atlantic region, the Black Sea region, the Boreal region, the Continental region, the Macronesian region, the Mediterranean region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region). No later than six years after the selection of a site of Community importance, the Member State concerned must designate it as a special area of conservation.

Where the Commission considers that a site which hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species has been omitted from a national list, the Directive provides for a bilateral consultation procedure to be initiated between that Member State and the Commission. If the result of the consultation is unsatisfactory, the Commission must forward a proposal to the Council relating to the selection of the site as a site of Community importance.

Member States must take all necessary measures to guarantee the conservation of habitats in special areas of conservation, and to avoid their deterioration and the significant disturbance of species. The Directive provides for co-financing of conservation measures by the Community.

Member States must also:

  • encourage the management of features of the landscape which are essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species;
  • establish systems of strict protection for those animal and plant species which are particularly threatened (Annex IV) and study the desirability of reintroducing those species in their territory;
  • prohibit the use of non-selective methods of taking, capturing or killing certain animal and plant species (Annex V).

Every six years, Member States must report on the measures they have taken pursuant to the Directive. The Commission must draw up a summary report on the basis thereof.

The annexes to the Directive were amended to take account of the biodiversity of the countries who acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007. The enlargement brought new challenges for biodiversity, as well as new elements, including three new biogeographical regions (the Black Sea region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region).

The Natura 2000 network now represents around 18 % of the EU’s terrestrial territory.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 92/43/EEC

10.6.1992

10.6.1992

OJ L 206 of 22.7.1992

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 97/62/EC

29.11.1997

31.12.1997

OJ L 305 of 8.11.1997

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2006/105/EC

1.1.2007

1.1.2007

OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

The successive amendments and corrections successive to Directive 92/43/EEC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 13 July 2009 – Report on the Conservation Status of Habitat Types and Species as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive [COM(2009) 358 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report enabled the implementation of the Habitats Directive for the period 2001-2006 in the 25 Member States to be assessed. The report provides an overview of the biodiversity situation in the EU. It also constitutes a clear point of reference for assessing future trends in the status of its most vulnerable species and habitats.
The results show that favourable conservation status has not been achieved for many habitats and species listed under the Habitats Directive. Certain habitat types (in particular, grassland, wetland and coastal zones) have an overall poor status. Signs of recovery have been observed for certain species (for example, the wolf, Eurasian lynx, beaver and otter). However, further efforts are required to establish healthy and sustainable populations.
The Natura 2000 network must continue to develop; restoration measures for certain sites must be provided. The network and sites will then need to be managed effectively and properly resourced.
Lastly, a large number of Member States do not invest sufficient resources in monitoring the status of species and habitats within their territories. In the absence of reliable data it will be impossible to assess the impact of conservation measures.

Biogeographical regions

In line with the “Habitats Directive”, the Commission must, in agreement with the Member States concerned, draw up a list of sites of European importance for each of the nine biogeographical regions.

List of the Alpine region sites
Decision 2011/62/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Atlantic region sites
Decision 2011/63/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Black Sea region sites
Decision 2009/92/EC [Official Journal L 43 of 13.2.2009].

List of the Boreal region sites
Decision 2011/84/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Continental region sites
Decision 2011/64/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Macronesian region sites
Decision 2009/1001/EC [Official Journal L 344 of 23.12.2009].

List of the Mediterranean region sites
Decision 2011/85/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Pannonian region sites
Decision 2011/86/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Steppic region sites
Decision 2008/966/EC [Official Journal L 344 of 20.12.2008].

Financing Natura 2000

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 July 2004 – Financing Natura 2000 [COM(2004) 431– Not published in the Official Journal].
With completion of the Natura 2000 network, the management of designated sites will become the priority measure for protecting biodiversity in the EU. Sufficient funding will be required to ensure that the Natura 2000 network fulfils the objectives that have been set and is adapted to specific local requirements. The Commission considers that the network can bring considerable benefits, both economic (the development of ecosystem services, provision of food and wood products, activities related to the site such as tourism, etc.) and social (more diverse employment opportunities, increased social stability, improved living conditions, safeguarding heritage, etc.). A new Communication on financing Natura 2000 should be adopted by the end of 2011.

Combating invasive species

Combating invasive species

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating invasive species

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Combating invasive species

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 3 December 2008 – Towards an EU strategy on invasive species [COM(2008) 789 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Invasive species are animal or plant species that have become established in areas that are not their normal habitat and have become a threat. These non-native species may cause serious damage to ecosystems, crops, disrupt local ecology, impact human health and produce serious economic effects.

The main vectors introducing invasive species are directly or indirectly related to trade and transport. Climate change and the deterioration of natural habitats foster their spread. At present, the European Union (EU) has no specific instrument to tackle this issue.

At international level, a three-stage approach has been adopted by the Commission, which recommends measures based on:

  • prevention, to limit introductions resulting from trade which, in particular, necessitates stronger border controls;
  • early detection and rapid eradication which require monitoring and early warning programmes;
  • control and/or confinement if the invasive species is already established, as well as the implementation of coordinated action.

The legislation in force, particularly the plant health Directive, animal health legislation and the CITES Regulation, and a number of programmes already provide instruments to tackle the threat constituted by invasive species. However, coverage of the problem is still partial and does not enable coordinated implementation to take place.

Four strategic options can be envisaged to tackle the problem of invasive species in the EU:

  • business as usual: if no steps are taken, invasive species will continue to establish themselves and an increase in ecological, economic and social consequences is to be expected, as well as an increase in costs;
  • maximising existing instruments and voluntary measures: legal requirements would remain unchanged but stakeholders would consciously choose to tackle the problem of invasive species under the legislation in force. The Commission stresses however that the level of response may vary considerably from one Member State to another;
  • adapted existing legislation: a similar option to the above, but including the amendment of existing legislation on plant/animal health to cover a broader range of potentially invasive species;
  • the creation of a specific Community instrument: this option would in particular include an obligation for Member States to carry out border controls and to exchange information on invasive species. The Commission considers that this option would be the most effective.

Several horizontal issues related to invasive species should also be tackled. It is therefore important to build a sense of responsibility amongst citizens, authorities and industries with regard to the problem, to intensify research in order to gain a better understanding of the risks and to undertake bilateral action with third countries, in particular under development policy.

Context

Combating invasive species forms part of the Action Plan for biodiversity which recognises the necessity to prepare a comprehensive strategy at EU level to reduce their impact on biological diversity in Europe. The Commission intends to present such a proposal in 2010.

Fight against illegal logging

Fight against illegal logging

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fight against illegal logging

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

Fight against illegal logging

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market.

Summary

Illegal logging covers any form of harvesting, processing or marketing of timber in violation of the legislation of the country of harvest. Due to the deforestation and damage that they cause, such practices have serious repercussions on the environment, such as loss of biodiversity and an increase in CO2 emissions. Illegal logging also has economic and social repercussions.

Timber and timber products

This Regulation applies not only to imported timber, but also to timber harvested or processed within the European Union. It covers a wide range of timber products, listed in the Annex in accordance with the nomenclature of the Community Customs Code.

Obligations for operators

This Regulation establishes three principal obligations:

  • Timber and timber products placed on the market must come from legal harvesting;
  • Operators placing timber and timber products on the market must use a system of ‘due diligence’. The system of due diligence is a risk management system which aims to minimise the risk of illegal timber being present in the supply chain. Operators must be able to provide specific information on the timber and timber products placed on the market and to conduct a risk analysis;
  • Operators must keep information on their suppliers and on the traders they have supplied with timber for at least five years. This ensures traceability.

Due diligence systems

This Regulation offers operators the option of using the due diligence systems put in place by the monitoring organisations. These are organisations with the necessary expertise and analysis capacity to help their members comply with the rules. These organisations must meet legal and technical conditions in order to be recognised by the European Commission.

Status of timber and timber products

The Union negotiates and concludes voluntary partnership agreements (“FLEGT”) with certain countries in order to ensure that the timber imported from these countries is from a legal origin. The timber exported under these agreements is covered by an authorisation system introduced by Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005.

In accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Regulation (EC) No 338/97 specifies the conditions for the issue of permits for certain types of timber. Timber which has such a permit is also considered by this Regulation to have been legally harvested.

Application

The date of application for this Regulation is set for 3 March 2013. European operators, timber producers and Member States (including commercial partners) should therefore have the necessary time to prepare themselves. In the meantime, the Commission may adopt more detailed rules.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 995/2010

2.12.2010

OJ L 295, 12.11.2010

Protection of nature and biodiversity

Protection of nature and biodiversity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of nature and biodiversity

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Protection of nature and biodiversity

Increased urbanisation and the spread of human infrastructures, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution in all its forms, the introduction of exotic species into our ecosystems – these factors are all highly damaging for biodiversity. As a result, 42% of mammals, 15% of birds and 52% of freshwater fish across Europe are under threat. In addition, nearly 1000 plant species are at serious risk or on the verge of disappearing completely. In order to safeguard biodiversity and combat the extinction of animal and plant species, the European Union has set up a vast network of protected sites (the Natura 2000 network) and made the protection of biodiversity one of the key objectives of the Sixth Environment Action Programme.

BIODIVERSITY

  • Biodiversity strategy for 2020
  • Action Plan for biodiversity
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Agriculture
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Economic and Development Co-operation
  • Bern Convention
  • The Rio de Janeiro Convention on biological diversity

MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources
  • Environment and sustainable management of natural resources, including energy
  • Action plan for an integrated maritime policy

Biofuels

  • EU strategy for biofuels
  • Motor vehicles: use of biofuels

Management of marine resources

  • Conservation and exploitation of marine resources
  • Conservation of certain stocks of migratory fish
  • Conservation and management of sharks

FAUNA AND FLORA

  • Natural habitats (Natura 2000)
  • Conservation of wild birds
  • Endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES)
  • Conservation of Antarctic marine living resources
  • Conservation of migratory species – Bonn Convention
  • The keeping of wild animals in zoos
  • Protection of laboratory animals
  • Protecting cetaceans against incidental catch
  • Protection of certain seal species
  • International Dolphin Conservation Programme
  • Whaling
  • Protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas from bottom fishing
  • Destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of ecosystems
  • Alien and locally absent species
  • Combating invasive species
  • Convention on the Protection of the Alps
  • Ban on trade in cat and dog fur
  • Trade in seal products

FORESTS

  • FLEGT Licensing scheme
  • Fight against illegal logging
  • Combating deforestation
  • European Union forest action plan
  • The EU forestry strategy

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

  • Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs)
  • Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms
  • Novel foods and food ingredients
  • Traceability and labelling of GMOs
  • Food and Feed (GMO)

Combating deforestation

Combating deforestation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating deforestation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

Combating deforestation

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 17 October 2008 “Addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss” [COM(2008) 645 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Forests cover roughly 30% of the world’s land area and offer major environmental benefits: they are amongst the most important habitats for biodiversity and provide crucial services by contributing to erosion prevention, water purification and the storage of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The livelihoods of 1.6 billion people in the world depend on forest resources.

Forests are under threat from deforestation. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 13 million hectares of forests are lost every year. The main direct causes of forest destruction are changes in land use and badly controlled infrastructure development.

Proposed EU objectives

Protecting forests is an effective means of combating global warming. The action proposed by the European Union (EU) aims to halt global forest cover loss by 2030 at the latest and to reduce tropical deforestation by at least 50 % by 2020 compared to current levels. This Communication sets out the main lines of the action proposed by the European Commission, invites contributions from all stakeholders and sets in motion a series of initial actions that will provide the foundations for a global response to deforestation.

The Commission considers that the battle against deforestation must be fought on several levels:

  • by strengthening forest governance and institutions at local and national level;
  • by rewarding the value of the services provided by forests and making them more economically attractive than the benefits which can be derived from deforestation;
  • by taking account of demand and the responsibility of consumers;
  • by taking into account the work of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (EN) and international climate negotiations;
  • by improving means for forest monitoring and assessment in order to obtain high-quality information to support decision-making.

Contribution of Community policies

Many European policies have indirect impacts on deforestation and the EU can help promote sustainable forest management, in particular through:

  • Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT);
  • work carried out under the framework of the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA);
  • green public procurement policies;
  • promoting eco-labelling and forest certification.

Furthermore, the Commission highlights the existing link between demand for agricultural commodities and land use. It stresses the need to increase agricultural production without further deforestation, which requires substantial investment, particularly in agricultural research to increase productivity in this sector in developing countries. Vigilance is also needed to ensure that an increase in demand for biofuels does not jeopardise efforts to protect forests. In the future, the Commission will assess the impact on deforestation of European and international initiatives and the consumption of imported food and non-food commodities into the Community, and will continue with the review on policy coherence for development.

Mechanisms and funding

Combating deforestation in developing countries requires additional funding (between 15 and 25 billion Euros per year will be needed to halve deforestation by 2020). A major portion of funding could come from proceeds from the auctioning of allowances within the Community’s emissions allowance trading scheme (ETS). Indeed, the proposed amendment of the scheme, presented in January 2008, provides for at least 20% of the auction proceeds to be devoted to climate objectives, deforestation in particular.

Furthermore, the Commission proposes creating a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism (GFCM). As part of this framework, a pilot phase could be envisaged to test the inclusion of “deforestation credits” (avoided deforestation credits) in carbon markets. Governments could use these credits to achieve the targets allocated to them for the period post-2012 concerning the reduction of emissions. The possibility of authorising companies to use “deforestation credits” to offset a portion of their emissions could be considered after 2020.

Context

These proposals constitute the European Commission’s contribution towards tackling climate change, the protection of nature, and biodiversity. They should help to define the EU’s position in international climate negotiations. Furthermore, the Commission has been provoking discussion on development cooperation and the forestry sector and forestry management within the Union’s borders for several years. This Communication is accompanied by a proposal for a Regulation which aims to minimise the risk of illegally harvested timber and timber products entering the Community market (see related acts).

Related Acts

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 October 2008laying down obligations for operators who place timber and timber products on the market[COM(2008) 644 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].
As part of combating illegal logging and related trade, the Commission sets out obligations for operators who introduce timber and timber products on the Community market so as to minimize the risk of illegally harvested timber and timber products being placed on the Community market and in order to stop forest degradation and deforestation.

Strategy to strengthen global governance of seas and oceans

Strategy to strengthen global governance of seas and oceans

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy to strengthen global governance of seas and oceans

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Maritime affairs

Strategy to strengthen global governance of seas and oceans

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 15 October 2009 – Developing the international dimension of the Integrated Maritime Policy of the European Union [COM(2009) 536 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In this Communication, the Commission describes its strategy to strengthen its authority in multilateral and bilateral relations in the domain of maritime affairs. This strategy should allow the European Union (EU) to exercise greater influence over international debate on marine issues in order to safeguard its economic and social interests and increase protection of the environment. It should also contribute to sustainable maritime governance at global level.

This strategy covers a number of domains (for example the protection of marine biodiversity, climate change, maritime safety and security, working conditions on board ships and research into the marine environment) which necessitate international and integrated solutions.

European Union strategy

In order to improve global governance of seas and oceans, the EU must in particular:

  • strengthen its role as a global player through greater and more unified participation in multilateral fora;
  • promote membership of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at global level;
  • establish high-level dialogues on maritime affairs with key partners, ensuring synergies with existing sectoral dialogues in other policy areas;
  • pursue dialogue on Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) bilaterally through both European Neighbourhood Policy instruments and multilateral dialogue. Dialogue on IMP may be based on the frameworks put in place at sea-basin-level (e.g. Union for the Mediterranean, Northern Dimension, Black Sea Synergy). It can be supplemented by sharing best practices concerning the implementation of IMP instruments with countries neighbouring the EU and by encouraging these countries to use the instruments;
  • continue to work on moving oceans and coasts higher up the climate change agenda and provide assistance to developing coastal and island states in this field, in line with the EU development cooperation strategies and initiatives;
  • continue to support an integrated approach to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, particularly in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including for the establishment of marine protected areas;
  • pursue its cooperation with the ILO to encourage decent working conditions in the maritime sector;
  • pursue its actions to ensure freedom, safety and security of navigation, including actions against piracy;
  • continue and strengthen cooperation in research activities with third countries in order to enhance participation in large-scale international research programmes and with countries neighbouring the EU in order to define common regional marine research strategies;
  • ensure coherence between the activities of various organisations, notably in the fisheries, environment and transport fields;
  • encourage the OECD to develop a structure for exchange of best practices on integrated approaches to maritime affairs;
  • develop strategies for all relevant shared sea basins.

Context

The EU must pursue its efforts to improve dialogue with its neighbours, at both bilateral and regional level, including by concluding Regional Seas Conventions.

Regional approaches have already been launched for the Arctic, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean. The preparation of similar approaches for other sea basins is now of paramount importance. The EU can thus contribute to extending Integrated Maritime Policy at global level.

Environment Policy Review – 2008

Environment Policy Review – 2008

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environment Policy Review – 2008

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Environment Policy Review – 2008

The 2008 Environment Policy Review reports on the progress made in European Union (EU) policy during 2008 and analyses future challenges.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 June 2009: 2008 Environment Policy Review [COM(2009) 304 final Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The environment is at the top of the policy agenda. This transversal policy can help the European Union (EU) to emerge from the global economic and financial crisis which affected the European continent in 2008, by paving the way for low-carbon growth and enhancing energy efficiency.

In this Communication, the Commission reviews the events which marked EU environment policy during 2008. It describes in particular the progress made in the four priority areas established by the Sixth Environment Action Programme: climate change, biodiversity, the environment and health, and the sustainable management of resources and wastes.

The fight against climate change was emphasised in December 2008 by a series of legislative proposals forming the climate-energy package and demonstrating the EU’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % of 1990 levels by 2020 if other developed countries agreed comparable reductions or by at least 20% if they did not. This package aims at improving the Community greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme (EU ETS) and extending it to other greenhouse gases and other sectors. It also includes a proposal aimed at promoting renewable energies and another aimed at the reliable deployment of capture technologies and carbon storage.

Aside from the climate-energy package, the EU adopted other measures relating to climate change to reduceemissions on new vehicles and improve fuel quality.

The negotiation programme established at the Poznan conference in December 2008 should lead to a global agreement on climate change at the December 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen. This agreement will replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

With regard to the loss of biodiversity, the EU has continued its efforts in accordance with the Community Action Plan aimed at halting the reduction of biological diversity by 2010. The main measures that have been implemented consist of developing the Natura 2000 network by creating new sites in Bulgaria and Romania, and combating the spread of invasive species by proposing a number of strategic options including the creation of a Europe-wide early warning system to report new or emerging species.

In 2008, two initiatives were introduced to protect global forests which contribute to tackling climate change and the reduction in biodiversity. The first is a Regulation framing the timber and timber products market in Europe, and the second is a Communication presenting proposals from the Commission in order to combat tropical deforestation.

In the future, work will be directed at increasing biodiversity protection in the high seas under the Convention on Biological Diversity and related to the work of the International Whaling Commission, and at the prohibition of products from seals sacrificed with disregard for animal welfare rules.

In the area of environment and health, 2008 was marked by the entry into force of the REACH Regulation, aimed at reinforcing safety standards for chemicals produced in or imported into the EU. Other measures have been adopted concerning dangerous substances and mercury. The Directive on ambient air quality and pure air for Europe came into force in June. The Commission presented initiatives for sustainable transport and to reduce industrial emissions.

For 2009, work in the area of the environment and health will be concentrated on the amendment of the Directive on biocidal products and the establishment of new standards for vehicle emissions in order to adapt it to the REACH Regulation.

Concerning the management of naturalresources and waste, EU action relates to the protection of the water cycle (surface water and the marine environment), the development of sustainable production and consumption (ecodesign and the Ecolabel Scheme) and the improvement of waste recycling (ship dismantling, electrical and electronic equipment and bio-waste).

In 2009, the EU plans to introduce an environmental technology verification scheme to boost the confidence of buyers in the performance of new environmental technologies.

In 2008, progress was accomplished towards simplifying environment legislation through the development of programmes intended to improve the implementation of Community environmental laws. The Commission plans to use a broad set of tools to prevent breaches of the law, such as targeted use of Community funds and enhanced pre-accession support for enlargement countries.

Context

This annual activity report is a contribution to the Lisbon Process and the European Sustainable Development Strategy, of which the environment is an essential element.

2007 Environment Policy Review

2007 Environment Policy Review

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about 2007 Environment Policy Review

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

2007 Environment Policy Review

The 2007 Environment Policy Review reports on progress in European Union (EU) policy during 2007 and analyses coming challenges.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 2 July 2008 “2007 Environment policy review” [COM(2008) 409 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission highlights that a certain number of decisive steps were taken in 2007 in European Union environmental policy, with in particular the endorsement by the European Council of the energy and climate change package. In January 2008, the Commission translated the commitments into concrete action by adopting a Climate Action and Renewable Energy implementation package which includes proposals on the improvement of the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme, the participation of Member States in efforts to reduce emissions from non-ETS sectors, the promotion of renewable energies and the geological storage of carbon. The Commission also published new guidelines on State aid for the protection of the environment.

In other fields, the commitments under theEnvironment Action Programme have almost all been delivered. The Commission presented seven thematic strategies (air, waste prevention and recycling, marine environment, soil, pesticides, natural resources and urban environment) and the accompanying legislative proposals have been adopted or are being adopted. Moreover, an Industrial Emissions Directive has been adopted. The REACH Regulation, the Environmental Liability Directive and the Regulation on hazardous waste shipment came into force.

Financial instruments

New financial instruments for environmental policy became operational in 2007, including LIFE+, the Thematic programme for the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources, including energy, and the financial instrument for civil protection.

“Better Regulation”

The Commission has also continued to take action to simplify legislation and to improve its efficiency, in particular by presenting a Green Paper devoted to market-based instruments and guidelines to clarify standards for monitoring and declaring greenhouse gas emissions.

The environment in other policies

Integration of the environment into other policies progressed in 2007, particularly in transport with the entry into force of the Regulation on pollutant emissions from light vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards) and proposals on new norms for CO2 emissions from new vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles, and on fuel quality. This integration has also been continued in the fields of agriculture, cohesion policy, development, health, industrial policy, research and commercial policy.

International

Internationally, 2007 was marked in particular by the decision taken in Bali to work on a global agreement on the warming of the climate system after 2012, the decision of the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to declare a nine-year moratorium on ivory sales, and the launch of negotiations between the Commission, Indonesia, Ghana and Cameroon on logging.

Challenges in 2008 and beyond

Despite progress made in 2007, the Commission highlights that efforts must not be relaxed because there are still many challenges ahead. It also stresses the need to strengthen implementation of environmental policy, which is often slow or incomplete in Member States. To this end, the Commission will step up its efforts to support Member States through better information exchange, guidance and training.

In 2008, the Commission will present an Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production, a revision of the Community Eco-Management and Audit System (EMAS) and the Ecolabel scheme, and will present a White Paper on adaptation to climate change.

Context

This annual activity report aims at ensuring that the 6th Environment Action Programme is monitored. It also aims to contribute to the Lisbon Process and the European Sustainable
Development Strategy.