14 March 2019 | Reading 4 mins.

Forests simply provide better health

Karmenu Vella
European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Forests are essential to people and the planet.

72% of Europeans live in a city or urban area. Bettering the quality of life, forests have huge value in the urban environment. Everyone has a favourite park, a favourite bike track, picnic spot or walking trail. Our ease in associating trees with happiness is an illustration of the important relationship between cities and forests: they are good for our mental health and they have huge physical benefits too; they fight climate change and guard nature; they help keep water resources and air clean – that is the value of the forests on our doorstep. The forests to which we can cycle, walk or bus.

Beyond that, tropical forests and rainforests play a major role in regulating our global climate. Our direct experience of these forests is as small as their direct impact on our lives is large. They are vital. The European Commission is fully aware of the value of forests, big and small, near and far.

Since 2003, the EU has been implementing the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT AP) to fight illegal logging and associated trade – both important drivers of deforestation. The FLEGT AP consists of a combination of demand and supply-side measures in 7 inter-related action areas. On the supply side, the FLEGT AP places forest governance reforms and capacity-building among its key components, while on the demand side the EU Timber Regulation lays down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market, contributing to addressing the problem of deforestation and forest degradation. In addition, dialogue and cooperation with other major markets are promoted.

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