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Forests and other wooded lands cover more than 40% of the EU’s surface area. They provide a livelihood for millions of workers, entrepreneurs and forest owners. Foresters together with farmers are the main managers of EU’s land, contributing significantly to economic growth, jobs and prosperity, especially in rural areas. Finally, forests serve multiple purposes: economic, environmental and social; they are also a source of renewable energy and contribute to combat climate change.

The NRN Forestry Thematic Initiative

The NRN Forestry Thematic Initiative was launched in December 2009. The aim was to establish a working environment amongst the NRNs for promoting the exchange of experience and practice relevant to improving the implementation of the forestry measures under the 2007-2013 EU Rural development policy.

The main scope and expected results of the initiative were agreed during the first meeting of the working group in Brussels (December 2009), where an initial group of 5 NRNs established the basis for further co-operation. Interest in the initiative has since grown to include a total of 10 NRNs.

As part of the analytical work being undertaken within the Initiative, the ENRD Contact Point has supported the preparation of a Background Paper [PDF ] reviewing the implementation of forest-related measures in the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programmes of selected Member States. NRNs contributed to the collection and the review of country-specific information.

The NRNs have also worked to identify three main areas of interest within which to define and launch joint activities. These were presented, along with the proposals for specific joint activities, at the 10th NRN meeting (Edinburgh, September 2010) [PDF ].

Summary fiche on the joint activities under the forestry initiative [PDF ]

Specific topics and joint activities

Use of biomass from forests on a small-scale (short energy chains)

This topic focuses upon the exchange of practices concerning the use of forest bio-mass for the generation of energy (in particular for heating) at a local level. Activities under this topic are led by the Finnish NRN and a dedicated seminar has taken place on the 25-27 of September 2011 in Punkaharju (Finland) .

The multi-functional role of forests (public goods and services provided by forests)

This topic was kicked-off by a study visit organised by the Spanish NRN in October 2010. Focal point of the visit was the dehesa oak forests in southern Spain (Andalusia) where participants explored some of the possibilities for economic diversification offered by forests.

The outcomes of the study visit [PDF ] led to an international seminar on “The Management of Environmental Public Goods” organised by the Walloon NRN in Namur, Belgium, on 18-19 November 2010. Additional examples of the multi-functional role of forests in the wider EU context were presented during the seminar (Proceedings of the seminar, elaborated by the Walloon Rural Network [PDF ]).

Summary fiche on the joint activities organised within this sub-theme by the Spanish and Walloon networks [PDF ]

Following the exchanges under this sub-theme, a second study visit was organised by the LAG Pays Landes Adour Ocèanes in the Landes Department of Aquitaine region (France) on 27-30 September 2011. Here, the forest and its multiple socio-economic and environmental dimensions were studied in respect to setting up and realising a local integrated development strategy.

Support to private forestry management

A wide spectrum of possible activities has been identified for this topic and is currently being considered. The Italian NRN has taken the lead to propose a joint activity which envisages exchange of experiences on improving data availability for the forestry sector. Summary fiche of the proposal [PDF ]

Other related activities

RomaForest 2011 congress (Rome, Italy, 23-24 June 2011)

On the occasion of the UN International year of forests, the Italian NRN with the support of the ENRD, hosted an international congress on the current and future role of forest resources in the socio-economic development of rural areas in June 2011. For more information on the outcomes of the congress go to the official site of RomaForest2011 or find the summary fiche of the event [PDF ]

Find out more on Forestry

EU Rural Review on Forestry and rural development (November 2011) [PDF ]

EAFRD projects brochure on Forestry presents a set of articles about how the EAFRD can be used to sustainably develop the EU’s diverse array of different woodland resources [ PDF&      ]

The Rural Entrepreneurship Gateway includes a specific section on Forestry when you can find other relevant information about the policy context, forestry projects and other useful on-line resources.

Browse the RDP project database for projects related to the forestry sector

Further information on the activities and outcomes of this Thematic Initiative will be made available as the work proceeds.