Finnish MEP: ‘Political fight begins’ over Europe’s old-growth forests

Finnish MEP: ‘Political fight begins’ over Europe’s old-growth forests

In 2019, the Netherlands generated 13 percent more renewable energy than in 2018. That brings the total share of sustainable energy to 8.6 percent in 2019, compared to 7.4 percent in 2018. Solar energy and biomass were the biggest risers.

This is evident from the annual figures of Energieopwek.nl

The combination of more solar panels and a sunny year led to a 46% increase in solar energy. 6 petajoules of solar energy were added. This year, solar panels produced more than 4 percent of all electricity in the Netherlands. With this, almost 2 million households can be supplied with electricity.

The forests in Europe that can be considered “old growth” – and therefore declared protected areas – depends on the definition, says Petri Sarvamaa. “And that’s where the political fight begins,” he told EURACTIV in an interview.

Petri Sarvamaa is a Finnish MEP for the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). He is the author of a draft report on the European Forest Strategy for the European Parliament.

Sarvamaa spoke to EURACTIV ahead of the publication of the European Commission’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 where forestry is expected to play a key role.

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Environmental groups have called on policymakers to protect old-growth forests from harvesting – both for biodiversity and climate reasons. Do you believe the EU should declare old-growth forests protected areas and ban them from commercial exploitation? Or do you believe some exceptions should be made?

More of the latter, but let me explain. The most important thing to understand, to begin with, is that the forests in different regions of Europe can be extremely different from one another. So the situation in any given region or country varies incredibly. This is something that must be kept in mind with every piece of EU regulation or strategy.

The second thing to remember is that decision-making on forestry is in the hands of the member states. And whatever the Commission comes up with cannot change that. So whatever the Commission does on forestry – be it in relation to biodiversity or climate change – needs to be realistic and agreed with the member states.

These are the cornerstones of the whole discussion.

The combination of more solar panels and a sunny year led to a 46% increase in solar energy. 6 petajoules of solar energy were added. This year, solar panels produced more than 4 percent of all electricity in the Netherlands. With this, almost 2 million households can be supplied with electricity.

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