In a strongly-worded open letter addressed to the German federal government, members of the German Bundestag, and the European Parliament, the Forst & Holz platform has sounded the alarm on the potentially devastating consequences of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) for forest owners, forestry companies, and timber businesses in Germany. The platform warns that if the current form of the regulation is implemented, it could result in the abandonment of forest management in numerous areas and force smaller companies, in particular, out of the market.
Georg Schirmbeck, the deputy platform spokesman and President of the German Forestry Council (DFWR), stressed the urgent need to reconsider the practical implementation of this regulation. He highlighted the detrimental effects it could have on the forestry sector, which plays a crucial role in Germany’s economy and environment. The EUTR aims to combat illegal logging and ensure that timber and timber products entering the EU market are sourced legally and sustainably. However, the Forst & Holz platform argues that the current approach could have unintended consequences that would hinder responsible forest management and jeopardize the livelihoods of those dependent on the sector.
One of the main concerns raised by the platform is the administrative burden that the EUTR imposes on forest owners and forestry companies. The regulation requires them to provide detailed information about the origin of the timber they trade, which can be a complex and time-consuming task. The Forst & Holz platform argues that the current requirements are disproportionate and place an unfair burden on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the sector. These companies, already facing numerous challenges, would struggle to comply with the regulation, potentially leading to their exclusion from the market.
Furthermore, the platform warns that the EUTR’s focus on legality verification could undermine the promotion of sustainable forest management. By prioritizing legality, the regulation may inadvertently discourage forest owners from investing in sustainable practices. This could have a detrimental impact on the long-term health and biodiversity of Germany’s forests, which are essential for mitigating climate change and providing various ecosystem services.
The Forst & Holz platform proposes an alternative approach that would better balance the objectives of combating illegal logging and promoting sustainable forest management. They suggest that the regulation should focus on risk-based due diligence, where companies assess the risk of timber being sourced illegally based on factors such as country of origin and supplier reputation. This approach would allow for a more targeted and efficient implementation of the regulation, reducing the burden on forest owners and businesses while still ensuring the legality and sustainability of timber products.
The platform’s open letter seeks to raise awareness among policymakers and stakeholders about the potential negative consequences of the current form of the EUTR. They call for a dialogue and collaboration to find a solution that addresses the concerns of the forestry sector while upholding the principles of legality and sustainability. The Forst & Holz platform emphasizes the importance of maintaining a thriving and responsible forestry industry in Germany, which not only contributes to the economy but also plays a vital role in preserving the country’s natural heritage.
As the debate surrounding the EUTR continues, it remains to be seen how policymakers will respond to the concerns raised by the Forst & Holz platform. The future of Germany’s forestry sector hangs in the balance, with potential implications for the environment, the economy, and the livelihoods of those involved in the industry. It is crucial that all stakeholders come together to find a balanced and effective solution that ensures the legality and sustainability of timber products while supporting the long-term viability of the forestry sector in Germany.