The global impact of EU forest protection policies

Gianluca Cerullo et al. | Science | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Policy brief |


The European Union’s Biodiversity and Forest Strategies for 2030 mandate protecting all remaining old-growth forests across the EU, increasing the area of habitat patches set aside within forests harvested for timber, and limiting clear-felling in timber-producing landscapes (1). Although saving old-growth forests is critical, stand-alone policies can produce unintended consequences (2). Without simultaneously reducing demand for forest products or increasing supply from plantations and secondary forests, such measures can lead to increased harvesting elsewhere, often in tropical countries, to accommodate demand. Shifting logging activities to countries with weaker legal protections aggravates biodiversity and carbon losses and exacerbates existing inequities in environmental burdens (3). Isolated policies displacing production will also undermine the EU’s recent Deforestation Regulation to halt imports of deforestation-linked tropical products (4).