FSC welcomes the new EU anti-Deforestation Regulation

FSC welcomes the new EU anti-Deforestation Regulation – and is ready to work for effective enforcement on the ground

EU decision-makers have reached an historic agreement by approving the landmark EU anti-Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). The EUDR will prohibit placing products linked to deforestation and forest degradation on the EU market.

This is a significant win for civil society organizations, especially those working together under the banner of the #Together4Forests campaign, led by WWF EU. The campaign brought together over 200 NGOs, including FSC, to call for a strong EU law against deforestation.

Kim Carstensen, FSC’s Director General, said: “The EUDR is a game changer, and a much welcome one. I hope that this innovative Regulation will inspire other countries at COP15 to include a market approach in their efforts to tackle deforestation and loss of biodiversity. FSC has pioneered market approaches on a voluntary basis since its foundation in the 1990s, and we now look forward to supporting effective implementation of the Regulation through our existing certification scheme, as well as developing new forest solutions for businesses to use on the ground.”

Matteo Mascolo, EU Affairs Manager at FSC International, added: “FSC has supported this initiative since the beginning, working together with EU policymakers, scientists, forest owners, Indigenous leaders, and progressive companies. We are glad to see the EU Institutions agreeing on a final text. Effective enforcement will be crucial, and FSC is ready to provide market-based tools to complement and enable regulatory approaches. It is now more important than ever to be all #Together4Forests.”

What we support

This regulation is the first of its kind, because the new rules will go beyond legality to cover sustainability. In order to be placed on the EU market, products must not only be legal, according to the producing country’s standards, but also deforestation and degradation-free.

The regulation covers a wide range of products, including soy, palm oil, beef, and coffee, in addition to timber products and rubber. Adding rubber to the Regulation’s scope was an important strategic win, supported by FSC with nine other civil society members of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber.

Moreover, the Regulation brings traceability requirements to a whole new level. As Marc Jessel, FSC’s Chief System Integrity Officer, explained: “FSC supports traceability of claims, and, through partnerships, we are running pilots aimed at better understanding how science and technology, including Wood ID, blockchain, and satellite imagery, can best support the geo-localization of wood products. We would welcome collaboration with EU policy makers and national competent authorities to align our traceability solutions with the future EUDR requirements.”

What we want to see improved

FSC regrets that the scope of the regulation was not extended to other wooded land such as savannahs. These ecosystems are important carbon stores and provide livelihoods for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Furthermore, the lack of clear recognition of Indigenous Peoples and local community rights are an alarming omission.

“Indigenous Peoples are forests’ best stewards,” said Francisco Souza, Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation. “Without clear reference to relevant international conventions, certain rights of Indigenous Peoples cannot be properly protected under the EU law. FSC supports upholding Indigenous Peoples’ rights via robust Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) requirements.”

Next steps

The EU Parliament and Council have to formally approve the agreement. The new Regulation will then come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. Some articles will apply 18 months later.

Anand Punja, FSC’s Chief Engagement and Partnership Officer, summed up the agreement: “This is just the beginning of levelling up the playing field. Whilst we now have a strong regulatory foundation to fight deforestation, it is time for all actors to step up their practices. To avoid illegal products leaking onto the EU market, it will also be important to create and maintain forest partnerships with producer countries. At FSC, we believe that mandatory and voluntary actions are mutually supportive – and can work hand in hand to ensure sustainable and resilient forests, in Europe and worldwide.”

Source: FSC News, 15 December 2022