Meeting the European Unions’ Forest strategy goals: a comparative European Assessment

T4.14 Governing EU’s forests: policy narratives, perception and power


The new Forest Strategy for the 2023 for the European Union was adopted in July 2021, creating a new policy drive for policymaking. While the implementation of the EU Forest Strategy is accompanied by debates around the principle of subsidiarity and competencies for forest policy, until now no systematic scientific assessment has been conducted which looks at to what extent countries meet these goals. This study aims at: i) assess to what extent the national and sub-national forest policies of European countries align with the EU’s goals; and ii) identify opportunities and challenges for enhanced implementation.

This study refers to 15 countries and 3 regional cases ensuring a variety of socio-economic contexts and forest related conditions. We applied mixed methods based on comparative content analysis. Specifically, a total of 221 policy documents were analyzed through a content analysis, and a vast number of semi-structured expert interviews (69) conducted based on a common interview guideline that was translated into national languages were conducted.

The results of this comparative assessment show that the level of alignment of national implementation with the new EU forest Strategy depends on each country implementation trajectories. In most of the countries significant policy efforts are devoted to defining sustainable limits and practices for forestry whist advancing at the same time new measures on protecting, restoring, and enlarging EU forests. Climate change and their impacts are acting as trigger for putting forest higher in the policy agenda and getting more attention of public opinion and media. However, there is a general lack of mechanisms and participatory planning addressing different ecosystem trade-offs and involving concerned societal groups and scientists systematically in goal formulation. Moreover, there is an increased polarization between conservation and forestry, which results in multiple level and regional governance structures that are not well coordinated. A lack of human and economic resources constrains, in some cases, the ability of public administrations to conduct public management of forest goods and services, and to achieve ambitious goals - embedded in more complex policy frameworks. We conclude with 9 policy recommendations to overcome these challenges and strenghen EU forest governance.


Mireia Pecurul-Botines1 , Georg Winkel2, Laura Bouriaud3, Maria Brockhaus4, Vilis Brukas5, Alex Giurca6, Marjanke Hoogstra-Klein2, Agata Konczal2, Lenka Marcinekova7, krzysztof Niedzialkowski8, Knut Øistad9, Špela Pezdevšek Malovrh10, Ninna Pietarinen4, Jeanne-Lazya Roux6, Laura Secco11, Bernhard Wolfslehner6, Helga Pülzl6
1 Forest Sciences and Technological Centre of Catalonia (CTFC)
2 Wageningen University & Research
3 Stefan cel Mare University of Suceava
4 University of Helsinki
5 University of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
6 European Forest Institute
7 Technical University in Zvolen
8 Institute of philosophy and sociology. Polish academy of Sciences
10 University of Ljubljana
11 University di Padua