FOREST EUROPE political commitments and concrete actions have established solid ground for forest to contribute to future and current human well-being. The effort has resulted in a common policy framework for sustainable forest management in the pan-European region where common principles, guidelines, criteria and indicators, as well as principles for National Forest Programmes have been developed.
The basis of the work developed by FOREST EUROPE has been a common understanding of what sustainable forest management encompasses. The term was defined in 1993 in the Helsinki resolution as “the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems”.
The first two set of Guidelines were agreed on two Resolutions on “General Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management” and “General Guidelines for Conservation of Biological Diversity of European Forests” in Helsinki in 1993. Besides, FOREST EUROPE has elaborated “Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management”, endorsed at the Lisbon Ministerial Conference in 1998, elaborated to promote SFM in Europe by translating international commitments down to the level of forest management practises and planning, and the “Pan-European Guidelines for Afforestation and Reforestation”.
Criteria and indicators have been also adopted and continuously revised to promote sustainable forest management and facilitate the evaluation of progress towards it. The sixPan-European criteria for SFM are:
- Maintenance and appropriate enhancement of forest resources and their contribution toglobal carbon cycles;
- Maintenance of forest ecosystems’ health and vitality;
- Maintenance and encouragement of productive functions of forests (wood and non-wood);
- Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of biological diversity in forest ecosystems;
- Maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of protective functions in forest management (notably soil and water); and
- Maintenance of other socio-economic functions and conditions.
The associated indicators were adopted by the Ministers in Lisbon (1998), further improved in Vienna (2003) as “Improved Pan-European Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management” and updated and endorsed in Madrid (2015) as “Updated pan-European Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management”. They are used to communicate Sustainable Forest Management in the sector to policy makers, to other related areas and sectors, and to the public; to develop related policies and strategies; and to monitor and report on the state and trends of the European forests, and to They are used to assess progress towards sustainable forest management in the pan-European region both at regional and national level. This progress and an up-to date information on European forests is regularly presented in the “State of Europe’s Forest” reports.