Press Releases 2017
In the following links, you may find correspondence between H. E. Ms. Gabriela Matečná, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic and Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE, regarding the next State of Europe’s Forests report.
Letter regarding State of Europe’s Forests report sent to H.E. Ms. Matečná from Ms. Algayeova on 13 November 2017
Interim is the mid-year meeting for IFSA officials. It usually lasts for a week, and takes place between late December and early February. Since most of the work that we do is spread all over the world, this is a chance for officials to be able to get together and work face-to-face. Officials explain the difficulties met during the first part of their terms, try to find solutions to them, and plan the work towards the next General Assembly. This year, Interim meeting was held 8-14 January in Wageningen, Netherlands.
Presentation about European forests and how FOREST EUROPE works was the first step in raising awareness of FOREST EUROPE between forestry students. What can we expect from our forest with changing climates? How can we get sustainable yields? What will the future bring us? That was the questions that we tried to discuss with the students.
Press Releases 2016
The close connection and interdependence between forests and water, this year’s theme of the International Day of Forests (21 March), has received special attention in the high-level policy process on forests in Europe. FOREST EUROPE joins the worldwide celebration of the International Day of Forests, and takes part in the events organised by UNECE/FAO, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands together with other partners because “water” belongs to the key topics that the process has addressed.
In particular, the Warsaw Resolution 2 (“Forests and Water”) and the Pan-European Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management, developed and adopted by FOREST EUROPE, emphasise the role of forests and forest management in protecting water quality; their impact on the quantity of water resources and their contribution to flood control.
FOREST EUROPE is a unique forest policy process addressing and developing common decisions on issues of highest political relevance. Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, the process has 47 signatories (46 European countries and the European Union), observer countries and a number of other observer organizations also participate. The most recent, Seventh Ministerial Conference was held in Madrid, Spain, on 20-21 October 2015, where the ministers responsible for forests in Europe adopted four ministerial documents, which represent an important basis for actions in coming years.
In the Resolution “Forests and Water” adopted at the Fifth Ministerial Conference in Warsaw, in 2007, the signatories made commitments on (i) sustainable management of forests in relation to water, (ii) coordinating policies, (iii) forests, water and climate change, and (iv) economic valuation of water-related forest services. To facilitate implementation of the Resolution at pan-European level, a workshop dedicated to “Sustainable forest management and influences on water resources – coordinating policies on forests and water” was convened in Turkey, in May 2009. The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss and strengthen cooperation between the sectors and was a good ground for follow-up activities. Reports of signatories on implementation of the Resolution were made at the Ministerial Conferences in Oslo (2011) and Madrid (2015).
The preservation of drinking water resources, the stabilization of stream banks or sand dunes are among key protective functions of forests. Protective functions are very important when assessing sustainability in forests. Therefore, the pan-European Criterion 5 “C5: Maintenance and Appropriate Enhancement of Protective Functions in Forest Management (notably soil and water)” has the indicator of designated forest and other wooded land for preserving water resources, among other protective functions.
Criteria and indicators are the basic tools in implementing and promoting sustainable forest management by providing relevant information for forest policy development and evaluation, national forest policies, plans and programmes and as a basis for cross-sectoral communication. FOREST EUROPE was one of the first regional policy processes to develop and endorse criteria and indicators. The mission of FOREST EUROPE is to enhance the cooperation on forest policies in Europe under the leadership of ministers, secure and promote sustainable forest management with the aim of maintaining the multiple functions of forests crucial to society. All documents can be found at www.foresteurope.org.
Press Releases 2015
Ministers in Madrid commit to further action to address challenges ahead for European forests
In the last two-and-a-half decades, forest area in Europe has continuously increased. At the same time, progress has also been made on the implementation of sustainable forest management in the region. In short: Nowadays, Europe has more and better-managed forests.
Forests play an essential role in the well-being of European society. More forests, and a wider implementation of sustainable forest management, means more environmental, economic and sociocultural benefits for society. More sustainably managed forests signifies more stable soils, more (and higher quality) water resources, more habitats for forest species, more protection against natural hazards such as floods, landslides and avalanches, as well as more opportunities to supply forest products and create jobs related to forests and the forest sector. In other words: more opportunities for sustainable development.
However, despite the positive news regarding European forests in the last decades, new challenges for forests have emerged during this time, and new opportunities have appeared or become more evident.
Aiming to strengthen the political commitment to address these challenges and opportunities, ministers and high level representatives from 38 European countries and the European Union gathered in Madrid on 20-21 October 2015, on the occasion of the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference and the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference. Delegates from 18 international organisations representing forest owners, the academic and scientific community, intergovernmental processes and other forest stakeholders, also participated at the meetings as observers.
During these two days, attendees at the Conferences highlighted the important role of FOREST EUROPE – the voluntary high-level political process for forests in Europe – to foster action at national and regional levels on forest-related issues on the European continent. As the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Ms Isabel García Tejerina, said today in Madrid, “FOREST EUROPE has been essential in order to enhance cooperation on forest policies and to implement sustainable forest management across the continent in these 25 years, and so it will be in the future”.
The 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference
Protecting forests through sustainable forest management
We are living in a time of exceptional environmental change. Climate change is expected to aggravate damage caused by drought, wildfires, storms, and pests, among other threats to forests. This, together with other long-range environmental changes, such as those caused by increasing pollution, growing human population and land-use changes, puts at risk the long-term capacity of forests to fulfil their essential ecological, economic and social functions.
In addition to this, the cross-border nature of many of the threats affecting forests makes the need to reinforce international collaboration in the protection of forests more evident than ever. Consequently, ministers responsible for forests in Europe have reaffirmed in Madrid their commitment to strengthen cooperation in this area in the pan-European region.
Acknowledging that sustainably managed forests recover more easily from damage and adapt better to changing conditions, ministers have also committed to enhancing the protection of forests by further strengthening the implementation of sustainable forest management on the continent, both at national and regional levels.
As the Slovak Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Ľubomír Jahnátek, who is one of the co-chairs of the Conference, said: “active forest protection can significantly contribute to mitigating negative impacts of threats which our forests are facing today”.
Placing forests in the centre of a green economy
Ministers in Madrid committed to enhancing the role of sustainable forest management in a green economy. The transition to a green economy offers great opportunities to develop the forest sector even further, as well as to foster the creation of new green jobs.
In this sense, opportunities exist to diversify and develop the forest sector, new market niches, and employment linked to non-wood forest resources and forest services, which are starting to attract more attention and would respect the supply of the goods and services provided by these ecosystems.
Research into new, innovative technologies and products, and identifying new demands from society that could be fulfilled by forest products and services, will be key for the development of the forest sector. Closely related to this, training and education will also be essential to making the forest sector more competitive. Only a competitive sector will assure its profitability.
Making FOREST EUROPE fit for the future
Acknowledging the key role that FOREST EUROPE has played in the last 25 years in promoting sustainable forest management in Europe, but also being aware of current and future challenges and opportunities related to forests, and, therefore, the need to evolve and make the process fit for the future, ministers in Madrid have also decided to review the FOREST EUROPE process.This important challenge will be one of the tasks for next Liaison Unit hosted by the Slovak Republic.
The FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference
Setting a new time horizon to keep on strengthening sustainable forest management in Europe
The FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference was held on the afternoon of 21 October 2015, immediately after the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference.
This Conference met with the specific aim of receiving the results of the intergovernmental negotiations carried out from February 2012 to November 2013, following the Oslo Ministerial Mandate for Negotiating a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe. This Mandate, endorsed by the ministers at the 6th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference, launched the aforementioned negotiations and established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee with this aim. Despite the fact that all core elements linked to sustainable forest management were agreed to during the negotiation process, full consensus on the final draft agreement was not reached due to significant differences of view, mainly on institutional and compliance issues.
At the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference, ministers have acknowledged the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee and its outcomes, and, recognizing the great effort invested in the negotiations, have agreed that the draft negotiating text should serve as the basis for future considerations on a Legally Binding Agreement on forests in Europe.
Ministers have also committed to exploring possible ways to find common ground on the Legally Binding Agreement by 2020 at the latest. In doing so, they set a new time horizon to debate a possible agreement that could serve as a framework for coherent forest policy development and implementation in the pan-European region, as well as to reinforce the implementation of sustainable forest management in the continent.
More forests and better managed: FOREST EUROPE report reveals significant progress on sustainable forest management in Europe
Europe’s forest area has expanded to 215 million hectares, or 33 percent of the region’s total land area, over the last 25 years and continues to expand. Progress has also been made in the last two-and-a-half decades on the implementation of sustainable forest management in the European region, with an increasing number of countries with improved national forest policy instruments.
These are two of the key findings revealed in the report State of Europe’s Forests 2015 report, the 4th edition of a document that offers a comprehensive overview of European forests, their current status, trends and the policy responses related to them. It also gives an instructive insight into sustainable forest management in the region during the period 1990-2015.
The report was launched today in Madrid, Spain, at the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference (20-21 October 2015). Ministers responsible for forests and high-level representatives of 38 European countries and the European Union gathered in the Spanish capital city aiming to strengthen international cooperation and agree on further steps to protect and promote the sustainable use of the continent’s forests, and so preserve and enhance their environmental, social and economic values.
Since 1990, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, known as FOREST EUROPE, has facilitated an open and inclusive policy dialogue between governments, governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector, which addresses common challenges and opportunities relating to forests in Europe.
By providing detailed information about the current status of European forests and the associated trends over the last two-and-a-half decades, the State of Europe’s Forests report aims to stimulate debate on the role of forests in society and the implementation of sustainable forest management in the region. It also seeks to provide policy-makers with evidence-based information that can be used as a solid basis for future political commitments on forests and other forest-related issues in Europe.
European forests: fighting (and adapting to) climate change
European forests play a vital role in tackling current challenges like climate change. The expanding forest area and sustainably managed forests in Europe provide increased carbon sequestration and storage in the forest biomass and soils, as well as in forest products.
Forests remove large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. As reported by the State of Europe’s Forests 2015, between 2005 and 2015 the average annual sequestration of carbon in forest biomass, soil and forest products reached 719 million tonnes in the European region. This corresponds to about 9% of the net greenhouse gas emissions for the European region.
The increasing awareness of the importance of forests to mitigate and adapt to climate change is highly reflected in forest policies at the national level. During recent years many European countries have revised their policy objectives by putting stronger emphasis on climate change and most countries in Europe have established specialised entities responsible for implementing regulations, projects and programmes on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Progress on sustainable forest management = progress on protection of forests
Progress made on sustainable forest management in Europe in the last 25 years comprises improvements in forest policies, legislation, monitoring and assessment, among others.
The number of countries in Europe with a formal National Forest Programme (NFP) process has almost tripled since 2007. NFPs have encouraged broad participation, facilitating adoption and implementation of forest policies and strategies. In this sense, it must be noted that a forest policy document such as a “forest strategy”, “forest policy” or the like exists in practically all FOREST EUROPE countries.
Likewise, over 70 percent of forests in Europe have a management plan, which means that an area of over 155 million hectares in the European region is covered by forests under management plans or their equivalents.
And the expansion of better managed forests encompasses the progress on the protection of forests: Sustainably managed forests recover more easily from damage and diseases, and adapt better to changing conditions.
In addition, it should be highlighted that, according to the results presented in the State of Europe’s Forests 2015 report, more than 30 million ha of European forests are protected with the main objective of conserving biodiversity or landscape. Over the last 15 years, the area of protected forests in Europe has increased by half a million hectares annually.
Great economic potential of forests yet to be fully developed
Despite the fact that the European forest sector was affected by the recent global economic recession, it is now on a steady path of recovery. The productive role of our forests is worth emphasising. Europe still remains one of the world’s biggest producers of equivalent roundwood. The value of marketed non-wood goods, which sometimes provide an important source of income at local level, is also significant.
As highlighted by their contribution to Europe’s gross domestic product (GDP), which amounts to EUR 103 billion annually, the socio-economic functions of forests play an important role in the region’s economy. It is also interesting to note that, according to the information provided by the State of Europe’s Forests 2015 report, Europe has moved from being a net importer of primary wood and paper products to a net exporter.
The forest sector in Europe provides jobs and income for at least 3 million people, plus an untold number of people in informal employment, such as much of the work carried out by private owners and members of local communities, which is not reflected in official employment statistics nor in the reported data.
In this context, and as has been often repeated by many delegations during the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference, the transition to a green economy offers great opportunities to develop the forest sector even further, as well as to foster the creation of new decent green jobs.
Over 300 national correspondents and national and international experts provided the information required for the State of Europe’s Forests 2015 report, and 60-plus authors and reviewers worked together to produce it.
The 4th edition of the State of Europe’s Forests report has been coordinated and compiled by FOREST EUROPE’s Liaison Unit Madrid in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Forest Institute (EFI), the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the University of Hamburg (UHH). The UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section played a valuable role in the collection, processing and reviewing of part of the information included in the report.
The full State of Europe’s Forests 2015 report and the Summary for Policy Makers can be downloaded from this link: http://www.foresteurope.org/fullsoef2015
Press Releases 2013
Although a final agreement could not be reached in Geneva during the Resumed Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Forests in Europe (Resumed INC-Forests4), FOREST EUROPE remains hopeful of a Legally Binding Agreement (LBA) on this matter in the pan-European region.
The current draft version of a convention on European forests is the result of two years of intense negotiations, which started at the FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference held in Oslo in 2011. At this conference, ministers responsible for forests decided to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) with the mandate to develop a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe.
At this last session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, agreement was reached on all points related to sustainable forest management. However, there are still significant differences of opinion on institutional arrangements.
The text will be presented to an Extraordinary Ministerial Conference, which will take place in Madrid in the first half of 2014. The ministers of FOREST EUROPE will receive the results of the Committee and decide on further guidance and appropriate actions.
Such a convention on forests would create a stable and efficient platform to develop and implement a coherent forest policy addressing environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects in the pan-European region, which contains a fifth of the world’s forests.
FOREST EUROPE’s 46 signatory countries, the European Union, and observers to the process including non-European countries, international organizations, NGOs, representatives of forest owners, related industries, academic and scientific community and other forest stakeholders have all been involved in a negotiation process that is now one step closer to its end.
Madrid, 4 March 2013- Next Wednesday, the FOREST EUROPE Expert Level Meeting (ELM) will open in Madrid. This is the second time the experts meet in Madrid since the Spanish Co-chairmanship of the Ministerial Conference on Protection of Forest in Europe started.
During two days, more than 50 attendees from 25 signatory countries plus de European Union and 12 international observer organizations, such as environmental and social NGOs, forest owners’ federations, unions, forestry industry and scientific community will discuss the progress made on the Work Program approved last year in Madrid. They will review the on-going work on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and its tool, the monitoring and reporting activities carried out with other forestry regional processes, a workshop on governance and forest law enforcement, the kick-off meeting on valuation of ecosystem services, considerations of the activities related to SFM in a green economy, as well as international activities and cooperation with other organizations. These voluntary actions are the direct result of the implementation of the Oslo Ministerial Decision European Forests 2020 and other prior ministerial resolutions.
Among other issues, the experts will be updated on the progress made in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which has the mandate to develop a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe. The negotiations should produce the text by the end of June.
On Thursday, Mr. José María Solano, the Spanish representative, will present a summary on the preparations for the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference to be held within six months of the conclusion of the work of the INC, for the consideration of its results and possible adoption, and opening for signature. The Government of Spain will hold the Extraordinary Conference in Madrid, most likely by the end of October or beginning of November (dates to be confirmed).