To improve the decision making process at all levels, it is necessary to have adequate and accessible information on forests, originating, for instance, from the monitoring, assessing and reporting on implementation of sustainable forest management, as well as scientific analysis.
FOREST EUROPE, as a regional policy process, has pursued the need to assess the state of forests and the progress toward sustainable forest management at regional and national level. Within the past decade a consensus has emerged that progress toward sustainable forest management can be assessed using a framework of pan-European criteria and indicators (C&I). While the C&I framework may not be the only mechanism for monitoring, assessing and reporting on SFM, it is the only one that has so far been widely accepted and is being used by many countries.
Therefore, one of the main tool to improve assessment of the progress towards SFM at national and regional level has been the use of C&I for the identification of the trends in the forest sector, and the effects of forest management interventions over time, facilitating well-informed decision-making in forest policy and management at all levels (sub-national, national, regional and global).
At a regional level, FOREST EUROPE presents periodically since 2003, the State of Europe´s Forest report, that provides a comprehensive, up-to-date description of the status and trends of forests and forest management in Europe, following the Pan-European Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. However, monitoring and reporting is a complex and potentially very expensive activity. There is a need of adequate, accessible forest information to develop cost effective, practical and pragmatic approaches to achieve meaningful results, reduce reporting burdens on countries and improve reporting on Europe’s forests and the Goals for European Forests and European 2020 targets for forests.
Recognizing these necessities, the Ministers decided in the Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020, paragraph 24 b (page 4):
“Further improvements in forest monitoring and reporting
Stressing the importance of adequate, accessible and evidence-based forest information at all levels of policy making, and for informing the broader public, FOREST EUROPE will further improve the basis for forest monitoring and harmonised reporting systems to serve emerging needs, including for verification of legality and sustainability”
Towards this end, a common data collection with FAO’s Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) 2015 has been explored. This will allow improving and harmonizing data collection and will ensure consistent time series for the pan-European quantitative indicators. In the longer term, the continuously improved pan-European forest monitoring and reporting would reflect the evolution of Sustainable Forest Management and its tools, including valuation of ecosystem services, serve verification of sustainability/legality, and evaluation of achievements on goals of 2020 targets for European forests.
In order to support implementation of a Madrid Ministerial Declaration actions, the FOREST EUROPE Expert Group on Implementation of the Updated pan-European Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (hereinafter “EG”) is established according to the FE WP, Action 4.1 – “Further development and updating of policies and tools for sustainable forest management”, and its Activities 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 – “Enhancing tools to promote SFM”. EG will enable dialogue and mobilise expert forum for further development of C&I and their use as a tool for SFM.