Flanders permits 9 out of 10 deforestation applications
5,028 hectares of forest have disappeared in Flanders over the past 20 years, an area the size of 7,000 football fields. In 9 out of 10 cases logging permits receive a positive advice.
Technically there has been a ban on deforestation in Flanders since 1990. Forests are protected in principle, regardless of their purpose. Unfortunately, that principle only applies on paper. Whoever has a permit can cut down the trees.
"Almost everyone who wants to cut down a forest gets the necessary permit, even if the forest is old and very expensive. That is completely insane," says
Green Party MEP Mieke Schauvliege. She is calling on the Flemish government to "stop the logging drive immediately and work out much stricter conditions".
For example, in 2020, 1,283 deforestation applications were submitted. In 1,202 cases, a positive advice was given. This led to the felling of 242.5 ha of forest. This trend continued in 2021, when 1,302 applications were submitted of which 1,201 received a favourable opinion, good for 228.24 ha.
On the few occasions that the Agency for Nature and Forests (ANB) does provide negative advice, the permit providers (e.g. the province or local government) ignore it in 50 to 60 percent of cases. "ANB only appeals five to six times a year, which means that logging still takes place," says Schauvliege.According to Schauvliege, positive advice is issued "incessantly" and there is an urgent need for a stricter framework.
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