Objective 4.6.2 - Promote nature-oriented forestry that provides a guarantee for sustainable forest management, including forest conservation.
The declining health of forests, new insights in forest ecology as well as the increased interest of society in the protection of the environment demand a change in forest-management priorities, with a greater emphasis needing to be laid on close-to-nature forest-management practices. Nature-oriented forest management means the use of management forms where self-regulating natural processes are used and promoted to regulate the required functional efficiency of forests.
Besides the adoption of close-to-nature forest management systems, it is also of vital importance to promote the development of a representative network of protected forest areas (see objective 3.1.).
Nature-oriented forestry has to be understood as a flexible system to maintain the natural characteristics of forests, via adequate planning, harvesting methods, origins of plant material and management practices that take into account the ecological requirements of all the natural values of the forest. This system should provide options rather than strict rules. Its promotion needs to be based on a better knowledge of its economic benefits (for instance, through innovative research) and a better illustration of its advantages for biodiversity (for instance through demonstration areas). Belgian public forests are progressively applying nature-oriented forestry, and it should be promoted for the private forest owners too. In Flanders, voluntary associations (forest groups) offer different services to help the small-scale forest owners with the management of their forests.
Positive incentives need to be enhanced to promote sustainable forestry. In Flanders, subsidies are given for afforestation of farmland and pilot projects are receiving financial and technical support for the development and implementation of forest management plans.
In Wallonia, both public and private owners must meet sustainable forest management (SFM) criteria in order to obtain financial incentives for forest operations.