CEPF strengthens the South
Following the invitation from CEPF Secretariat, representatives of Southern/ Mediterranean private forest owners organisations met in Barcelona on 18 March, in connection with the Mediterranean Forest Week, to discuss the opportunities to strengthen their voice and lobbying at EU level via the CEPF umbrella.

The meeting was chaired by the CEPF President Hubert de Schorlemer and around 15 representatives from the Southern/ Mediterranean region participated.

Today, CEPF has about eight members from the south of Europe (France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, CONFI, ARCMED) - thus clearly addressing Southern/ Mediterranean issues.

In addition to the CEPF members, FEDESA (who represent Dehesa forests, a multifunctional agro-sylvo-pastoral system and cultural landscape of southern and central Spain and southern Portugal) was invited and attended at the meeting to discuss future cooperation possibilities with CEPF and its members. Other regional associations, such as from Catalonia were also present.

The main issues that were addressed included:

  • Key messages and subjects of PFOs from the Southern/ Mediterranean region to be brought forward at EU level
  • Cooperation among forest owners in the Southern/ Mediterranean region - status quo and options for improvement
  • How to strengthen the voice of Southern/ Mediterranean forest owners in the CEPF, and with this at European level.

Following topics for instance were raised and considered as critical for private forest owners in the Southern/ Mediterranean region: rural development, sustainable and active forest management, wood mobilisation, biodiversity and Natura 2000, forest protection with particular focus on forest fire prevention and mitigation, payments for ecosystem services, wood energy, bioeconomy and new opportunities, mobilising and structuring private forest owners, cooperation with authorities and communication to the society.

As several EU policies increasingly touch upon all the items raised, the CEPF President called for a clear need to strengthen the collaboration among of Southern/ Mediterranean private forest owners organisations in order to build better synergies and invest into stronger lobbying capacities at regional and EU level.

The meeting closed after a constructive half day. A follow-up is planned to be organised in connection with the CEPF General Assembly in Zagreb, Croatia on 10-12 June 2015.