Forests cover vast terrestrial ecosystems and are among the large contemporary issues of global importance. The French Law on the Future of Agriculture, Food and Forests, adopted in October 2014, recognizes that it is in the general interest to protect and provide value to forests and woods, the preserve natural resources and biodiversity and to increase carbon storage in forests.
In order to accomplish these goals, the National Forest and Wood program was created, which fixed goals and orientations in forest policy, both public and private.
The program includes four objectives:
- The first is to increase wood harvesting in France while ensuring that woodlands are renewed. French forests are currently underexploited and have been in a state of expansion during the past one hundred years. Improving their management will aid in developing the forest and wood economy and prepare for the future.
- The next goal is to take into account public expectations for France’s forests. Woodland is a place for recreation and preservation of biodiversity, in addition to an economic resource. Forests also provide fuel for heating and energy. This makes it important to raise the public’s awareness through improved communication on issues related to forestry to balance all of these needs, particularly though education. The national program will be adapted to fit each French region and will be rolled out a series of different programs for each one, taking into account local needs and concerns.
- The third objective is about the need to address climate change. Woodland plays a major role as an important storage center for carbon, thereby helping to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate change will also directly impact forests and biodiversity, meaning that the plans needs to prepare for the future.
- Finally, the program is aimed at promoting commercial outlets for forestry products from France and adjusting management to correspond to current market needs. While France has one of the most impressive national forestry systems and ranks as the second biggest producer of sawn hardwoods in Europe, the requirement for wood for construction and other uses is concentrated on softwoods.
In order to achieve these ambitious goals, a national action plan was implemented. Forests must be protected if they are to meet all of the goals that are expected of them. This is why the program maintains and expands current protection measures and better regulates the development of certain types of game animals, for example, that prevent proper growth of young trees. Actions have also been introduced to reduce the uncertainties that come with climate change, based on research and development for sustainable forest management.
The National Forest and Wood Program hopes to develop better communication tools for the public in order to better present the important role that forests and wood play and to explain forest management strategies.