The forests in Europe are ecological and social systems
In May of 2020, the European Union began its new Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to “reintegrate nature into our lives”, framed by the largest challenges of the European Green Deal and the United Nations´ Sustainable Developmental Goals 2030 Agenda.
The acceptance of this new Biodiversity Strategy is a very satisfactory happening, as it is an announcement of the next Forestry Strategy. The beginning of both strategies should derive from scientific knowledge and contemplation of the dynamics of forest in the long run.
The transformation of ecosystems due to human actions is profound and the use of European forests has a history that is millennia-old. The laws protecting these resources the last few decades, however, have seen an unprecedented recuperation of the vegetation. The sustainable exploitation of our forestry systems provides us capital not only because of the material good it contributes us, but also because it provides a guarantee of its perseverance and of maintaining the multiple services derived from its ecosystems, amongst them the conservation of biodiversity.
Forestry is intrinsically sustainable, it can act with a lower degree of global effect on the environment and allow to maximize the utility of the forest for each society decides to conserve. This, however, should be done in a framework that considers various temporal and spatial scales, one that gathers the different types of ecosystems of distinct types of forests, that does not forget to include that human society has had a role in determining its composition, structure and dynamism and that cannot be withdrawn without putting in question the system, like what is shown by the large wildfires aggravated by the abandonment of the countryside.
Forest ecosystems and the organized exploitation of its productive potential can mitigate the climate crisis and the economic damage associated, through the fixation of carbon in the forest or in products with long lifespans, the supply of environmentally friendly products and clean energy that feeds a circular bioeconomy, while helping combat the rural demographic challenge by connecting the local population with the forests and the potential of economic growth that it implies. The management of forests, as well, helps to avoid catastrophes like forest fires, that present a grave environmental and societal problem. Public funds for the prevention of wildfires, management plans and an increase in the forest area under management are all equally necessary. Obviously, they should be compatible with preserving biodiversity through sustained forest management based in ecology that extends to the forest surface, not only banning the exploitation in protected areas or reserves of old-growth forest ecosystems.
The discussion should not be planted in terms of should local forest be exploited yes or no (in which case there would need to be a substitute for these resources with an importance on third party countries or non-renewable resources): the issue is to provide a multifunctional forest that, in each concrete context, optimizes the services derived from these ecosystems which are relied upon by the land owners and population linked to these systems, as well as society as a whole.
To conclude, we want to restate our petition to not leave out the value of forestry sciences and that they should not undervalue the knowledge compiled during centuries of application together with the great advances that have taken place in the last few decades about how forest ecosystems function and their relation with human practices. This advancement in the knowledge and the capacity to monitor, predict and direct actively the processes and dynamism of forest ecosystems for its better management allows the guarantee of the services that the ecosystems give to the society so that they are sustainable in the long run.
We understand that this is the framework that should inspire the creation of the announced Forestry Strategy from an integrative perspective.