“Tropical deforestation and forest degradation is one of the world’s most important and challenging environmental problems. Whilst this communication represents an important first step toward tackling the issue, the new incoming Commission will have to work hard to implement it.” WCS EU’s Janice Weatherley-Singh
The following statement was issued by Janice Weatherley-Singh, WCS EU Director:
“WCS EU welcomes the publication by the European Commission of a new and important communication titled ‘Stepping Up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests.’
“Tropical deforestation and forest degradation is one of the world’s most important and challenging environmental problems. Whilst this communication represents an important first step toward tackling the issue, the new incoming Commission will have to work hard to implement it.
“In particular, the European Parliament in 2018 requested ‘a meaningful EU Action Plan on deforestation and forest degradation that includes concrete and coherent regulatory measures.’ This communication is a first step toward achieving this. The incoming new Commission must come forward with urgently needed legislative proposals to ensure that imports of agricultural commodities into the EU, and European financial investments, are not fuelling deforestation or forest degradation.
“There is much to welcome in the approach the Commission is proposing, even if more ambition is still needed to match the scale of the challenge. WCS EU is pleased, for example, that it proposes a balance between supply and demand-side measures in both consumer and producer countries. This approach will enable the EU to take first steps toward ‘cleaning up’ its own supply chains of agricultural products coming into the EU to ensure that they are deforestation-free, while also supporting interventions in partner countries to tackle remaining problems at the deforestation frontier.
“We were also encouraged by the recognition of the need to tackle biodiversity loss alongside deforestation and that actions to conserve and restore forests must also address biodiversity loss. This task is extremely urgent as highlighted in a recent landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which showed that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history with around one million species now threatened with extinction. Defaunation is a major component of forest degradation which has received very little attention to date, although the loss of forest wildlife due to poaching and unsustainable hunting has reached critical levels, with long-term unknown effects for forest functioning.
“The issues of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change are inextricably linked and one policy area requiring considerably more attention is the links between deforestation and climate change. We welcome the emphasis on primary forests in the document – in particular it is crucial that the EU develops a practical approach to conserving the world’s last large areas of intact forests, since these are globally irreplaceable for their contribution to climate change mitigation, most notably by absorbing over 25 percent of humanity’s CO2 emissions from all sources each year, as long as they remain free from degradation. WCS EU urges the EU to give high attention towards conserving such forests whilst they are still intact, especially areas managed by Indigenous Peoples.
“We are encouraged by the EU’s stated intention to develop a partnership approach to delivery of this communication. We will be pleased to work with the new European Commission and other partners to develop joint solutions to this urgent and complex environmental issue and in taking forward the areas of work outlined in this communication.”
The mission of WCS EU, based in Brussels, Belgium, is to save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, we draw upon the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) global field expertise and experience to identify, formulate, and articulate policy positions on issues such as wildlife trade and wildlife trafficking, integrating the conservation of wildlife and wild places into the European Union’s development aid programmes, and sharing this information with decision-makers.
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