Forestry is a national competence even though several EU policies such as environmental, agricultural and energy policies do concern forests.
In 2013, the EU institutions adopted the EU Timber Regulation which prohibits placing illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber on the EU market.
In the same year, the Commission adopted a new EU strategy for forests and forest-based sector which contains planned common actions as well as recommendations to Member States. Among others, this strategy foresees the Commission, Member States and Stakeholders to develop objective, ambitious and demonstrable EU sustainable forest management criteria that can be applied in different policy contexts regardless of the end use of forest biomass.
The forestry sector is also covered at EU level by the policy on emissions and removals from LULUCF (Land use, Land Use Change and Forestry). In 2018, the LULUCF-Regulation set the binding commitment that total emissions from this sector are in balance and do not exceed CO2 removals. The LULUCF accounting system is part of the EU sustainability criteria for bioenergy.
The role of biomass
Forestry biomass is the most important bioenergy source and represents more than two third of EU bioenergy consumption. Wood fuels can take the form of wood chips, wood pellets or wood logs. Both 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 of other industries such as sawmills, pulp mills and wood-working industries.
Sustainable forest management is essential to guarantee that biomass used for energy purposes is sustainable. In this framework, sustainable forest management is ensured by national legislations, international commitments as well as voluntary certifications. Based on this existing framework of sustainable forest management, the Renewable Energy Directive II introduces mandatory criteria for forest biomass which need to be respected via national laws and enforcement systems.