Climate policy has traditionally focused on this sector and long-term experiences with policies exist. A few countries have long-standing policies. The maximum rating is a ‘C’, however most countries are well below halfway to achieving the goal, with an average rating of ‘E’.
Germany and Denmark have stable support systems for electricity generation from renewable energy. Both have operated feed-in tariffs for over a decade. Policies to support combined heat and power are relatively advanced in Ireland, Germany and Spain. Performance in overarching issues for electricity supply is generally low due to the un-ambitious cap of the electricity sector in the emission trading system; no emission performance standards for new power plants leading to newly built coal fired power plants and widespread subsidies, in addition to tax exemptions for fossil fuels.
Reduced support for renewable electricity, mainly for solar photovoltaic (PV), partly justified
Some countries reduced support for renewable electricity, mainly the support levels for solar photovoltaic (Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Spain, UK, Estonia, Germany and Belgium). The reduction of support levels for solar PV is justifiable given the decrease in production cost and very strong market growth. Still, the support reductions were often implemented as a step change and have reduced future investment certainty. This is especially the case in Spain and the Czech Republic, where the support for solar PV was cut retroactively, either by cutting the tariff or by introducing a tax for existing installations.
The strategy for forest management planning is consistent and policy tools to ensure implementation exist. Between 1990 and 2007, an increase of the total forest carbon stock took place.
Several policies that prohibit deforestation without a development permit and compensation. There is a policy in place that restricts the use of illegally cut wood. In the Walloon region, the Forest Code includes the necessity of maintaining and improving the forest resources and their contribution to the carbon cycle, thus recognising the sustainable development of forest as the first guiding principle.
Bulgaria does not have a consistent land-use strategy in place. There is a short-term forestry development strategy, but this has not been implemented and is not mandatory yet.
A national Forest Plan is implemented through individual forest management plans set within a timeframe that runs up to 2013. The long-term strategy will only be updated in 2013.
Unlike its Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark is not a country in which forestry plays an important role within the national economy.
Around 50% of the land area is covered by forests. Over 30% of the forest area is protected and a monitoring and information system for sustainable forestry has been launched for gathering and analysing forestry information. It is especially worth noting the consistent land use strategy which is in place. The principles of sustainable forestry are included in the Forest Act. The development plan of the Estonian Forestry (until 2010) mandates the re-forestation of 300.000 ha of out-of-use agricultural land. The Rural Development Plan 2007–2013 promotes the establishment of protected forests. The strategy for forest management seems to be sufficient.
Finland has adopted a National Forest Programme to monitor and preserve its forests. Although Finnish wood is used intensively, the volume of the forests has been growing constantly over the last 30 years. In the next 10-20 years loggings are expected to increase as the forest stock gets older meaning that the carbon stock (and carbon sink) will also diminish significantly. In international climate negotiations, Finland does not accept responsibilities to compensate for the loss of this carbon sink.
The current French national forest programme only runs until 2015 and cannot be considered long-term. However, it does cover all types of forests and includes questions on adaptation. There is a wide range of information for private and state-owned forests; climate change is addressed along with sustainable forest management. Information can be obtained via the internet or offline and regular information events are organised by ONF (Office National des Forêts – National Forest Office) for state forests and private forest owners.
The jurisdiction on forest policy lies with the federal states and not the national government. Forest owners are obliged to manage their forest sustainably. The target is to convert 5% of the wooded area into natural forest by 2020. The aim is for 80% of the woodland to have certified high ecological standards by 2010 and 10% of privately-held forest shall be converted into protected areas.
No forest inventory exists for the whole of Greece, which constitutes a major uncertainty factor for investors.
The Hungarian Forestry Law aims at maintaining and increasing the forest area. The naturalness and biodiversity of existing forests has to be kept or improved.
There are a range of programmes relating to forestry in Ireland, which have been rather successful. This includes an afforestation grant and premium scheme to encourage the planting of forests by compensating forest owners for the costs of forestry establishment and for the income foregone during the maturation of the timber crop. The Forest Environment Protection Scheme grants aid and premiums to encourage farmers to combine the establishment of high ecological-value woodland with their participation in the REPS. The establishment of woodland under this scheme is designed to maximize its environmental contribution. However, in recent years planting rates have fallen short of the national target for 17% of forest land cover by 2030.
More than 86.6% of national forest area is regulated by a planning instrument. At the regional level, some areas (Toscana, Liguria and Basilicata) are 100% planned.
A system for the management of specially protected areas has been developed in Latvia. This system, incorporated in the NATURA 2000 network, covers 12.24% of the territory of Latvia. The majority of the specially-protected areas in Latvia are covered by forests.
Different policies and laws cover the principles of sustainable forestry. The target is to increase the overall forest area by 3% by the year 2020. Therefore several measures, such as the planting of forests and clearing limitations are integrated in the implementation strategy for the Lithuanian forestry sector.
Most woods are well managed. The Nature and Forests Administration (NFA) administers municipal woods (some 33% of the forests of Luxembourg), woods owned by the state (11%) and those belonging to public administration (1%). The remaining 55% are private forests, which are extremely fragmented. A national plan for sustainable development was published in November 2010, including the forestry sector, but without new measures.
Malta has a very limited forest area, more than 70% of which is publicly owned. One hundred percent of the forested areas are plantations and under management plans. There are also some afforestation projects underway.
Good laws against deforestation. Use of domestic wood is relatively low, accounting for 7% of total wood use.
In the forestry sector, various policies are in place to protect forests and improve them. There are guidelines for forest management and regional spatial development plans. Poland has successfully implemented a programme to increase its forest area. From 1990 to 2007 the forest carbon stock increased. The state forestry agency collects forest inventory data from all districts. However, these measures are not sufficient to ensure low-carbon development in the forestry sector.
There is a National Forestry Strategy, with a subsequent National Plan for Forestry defence. A Permanent Forestry Fund was created in 2004 and incentives range from awareness-raising, structural prevention and forestry planning to management and research and technical assistance. In July 2010, additional funds were approved through the PRODER project, which is a rural development programme that includes measures on forestry and specifically on preventing forest fires and minimising the effects from forest fires.
Rules are clear and strong, applicable nationwide, but are weakly implemented. From the beginning of 2011, the Ministry of Environment began active monitoring and promised to develop severe penalties for illegal cuttings. The national plan for controlling illegal forestry cuts is in the process of public debate.
There is a national forest programme to secure sustainable forest management and the Slovakian Forest Act also includes conditions for sustainable management. The national action plan to use agricultural and forestry biomass for energy purposes clearly highlights the importance of biomass availability and its real possibilities for Slovakia.
Sustainability is included in the Forest Act and the Forest Development Programme in Slovenia. Conditions have been created for sustainable forest management. A land use strategy is implemented and consistent.
Stringent forest management plans only exist for 13% of the total forest area. The percentage within private property is just 5%, which is especially worrying as 70% of forest area is private.
Sweden has a long history of forestry management and of supporting and promoting domestic forests. There are very detailed forest inventories. Forest areas have increased significantly in the past and are now relatively stable.
All strategies cover a long-term perspective and all forest lands. Climate change adaptation/mitigation is covered but not extensively for all parts of the UK (e.g. not covered in Northern Ireland). Considerable online/printed resources are available via the Forestry Commission, covering climate change mitigation, adaptation and other related topics. Wood planting schemes, such as the Energy Crop Scheme and the Woodland Creation Grant are available in the UK.