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Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Forest Restoration in Landscapes

Case Study: The European

Case Study: The European Union’s Afforestation Policies and Their Real Impact on Forest Restoration The European Commission has been promoting afforestation since 1992 under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) (Directive 2080/92) as a solution to reducing agricultural land and therefore, agricultural surpluses (which are currently supported financially through subsidies). More recently a sister scheme has been developed, the Special Action for Pre-accession Measures for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD), which is applicable to European Union (EU) accession countries and covers the period 2000 to 2006, with a budget of over 333 million Euros. Today, Directive 2080/92 is part of the Rural Development Regulation (RDR), which establishes a new framework for European Community support for sustainable rural development. While the afforestation measures under the EU had spent four billion euros by 1999 and planted 900,000 hectares of trees, the results in terms of the original aims of the scheme, and also in terms of restoring forest cover and forest functionality remained disappointing. Some of the key problems with the CAP afforestation directive include the following: • Limited role in taking land out of agriculture: In most member states, only 1.3 to 1.4 percent of land has actually been set aside from agriculture following its application. • Conflicting objectives: While the subsidy scheme was largely centred around taking 82 Stephanie Mansourian and Pedro Regato land out of agriculture, many governments and companies used the scheme to establish timber plantations. In Ireland, for example, the subsidies were used to establish plantations with a high economic return (Sitka spruce, pines) in order to achieve the country’s aim to double its forest area over the next 30 years. • Unequal distribution of subsidies and “double dipping”: Six countries accounted for more than 90 percent of the total area planted (Spain, the U.K., Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and France). In addition, individual examples show that funds were easily misspent. In Spain, the largest recipient of the EU afforestation funds, “double dipping” was discovered to be common, with farmers planting, clearing, and replanting the same plots all with subsidised funds from the EU. • Unnecessary manipulation of natural processes: In many cases, subsidies were applied to reforest areas that were regenerating naturally. It is estimated that up to 62.5 percent of the area benefiting from the subsidy did not actually qualify as producing an oversupply of crops. • Inappropriate methods and species: Over 65 percent of afforestation was carried out in areas believed at risk of fire under Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2158/92 on protection of the community’s forests against fire. Planting was often done in an ad hoc fashion, without selecting optimal

areas to restore forest cover, nor were these properly integrated into land use plans. References Perrin, M. 2003. Incentives for forest landscape restoration: maximizing benefits for forests and Case Study: The European Union’s Afforestation Policies 83 people. WWF Discussion Paper, WWF, Gland, Switzerland. Report to Parliament and the Council on the application of Regulation No. 2080/92 instituting a community aid scheme for forestry measures in agriculture, 1996.

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