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FOREST EUROPE (MCPFE) – a holistic approach to sustainable forest management

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Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Norway
Lars Peder Brekk
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World forests are in the spotlight for good reasons. Deforestation and forest degradation continues at an alarming rate. The multiple crises of climate, finance and food require the need for action to limit deforestation and to manage our forests sustainably. This is necessary in order to mitigate climate change and to adapt forests to changes in temperature, water supply and other factors affected by changes in climate.

It is necessary to utilise the potential of sustainable managed forests for development and income in difficult economic times. Forests, directly and indirectly, are part of the solution in the severe food situation faced by societies in many parts of the world. The linkage between forest management, forest functions and food security is too often neglected.

Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD +) is one of the main priorities for Norway in the climate change negotiations. The Copenhagen accord mandate countries to “immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD plus, to enable the mobilisation of financial resources from developed countries”. We intend to continue our effort in this regard. The Prime minister of Norway will host a meeting in Oslo in May which will aim at moving the issue forward on the basis of the outcome from Copenhagen.

Europe`s forests constitute 25 per cent of the worlds forest. They are equally important as forests in other regions for the future wellbeing of the societies depending on them – and for other parts of the world. 85 percent of European forests are located outside the EU while 15 per cent are within the EU-27. Sustainable forest management is a dynamic concept. Changes in society’s needs, environmental questions and the need for economically viable solutions are challenges to the entire region. FOREST EUROPE has shown its ability to respond to these challenges and we intend to develop the cooperation further.

Spain and Norway are co-chairing the General Coordinating Committee of FOREST EUROPE. We both see the merit in developing a robust process for the future. Currently the European countries are focused on the preparations for the next ministerial conference scheduled for June 2011. The ministerial conference will determine the content, form and direction of the future of FOREST EUROPE. Synergies between the work within the EU and the work of FOREST EUROPE definitely exist.
FOREST EUROPE and EU commitments to sustainable forest management

Forests in Europe provide a wide range of goods and services. Sustainable forest management is the basis for a lasting supply of these goods and services.

The pan-European region has endorsed a shared concept of sustainable forest management. All EU member states and the Commission have signed FOREST EUROPE resolutions confirming sustainable forest management as core approach to forests sustainability.

EU and FOREST EUROPE do share the same goals for securing all forest functions.
Sustainable forest management as part of the solution for climate change

Sustainable forest management in Europe embodies forest protection, reforestation and afforestation. Sustainable forest management through this explicitly recognises the linkages between commitments expressed in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report underlined that, “in the long term, sustainable management of forests will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit”. To achieve these benefits, sustainable forest management should aim at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while also producing fiber and energy from the forest.

Sustainable forest management in Europe is also consistent with the ecosystem approach (as defined by Convention on Biological Diversity).

Conservation of forest biodiversity is an essential and integral part of sustainable forest management.
Information and reporting on SFM

FOREST EUROPE was the first regional process to develop, and politically endorse, criteria and indicators that allow the evaluation of progress towards sustainable forest management at the national scale.

FOREST EUROPE together with UNECE/FAO regularly report on the progress towards sustainable forest management in Europe.

The new report on the state of Europe’s forests and sustainable forest management will be launched at the Ministerial Conference in Oslo in 2011 – and will provide trends since the first report in 2003.
Challenges and possibilities

Europe’s forests face a number of challenges; Forest fires, pests and storms, just to mention some of them. We have experienced threats to forests in the past. The new dimension is the direct and indirect effects of climate change. Adaptation to changed climatic conditions and expected extreme events will be the key challenge for the future. The continuous change of climate conditions will increase impacts on forest ecosystems in Europe, their health, vitality and productivity.

Threats to Europe’s forests and challenges must be addressed ... and potentials for forests and the forest sector in Europe must be realized.
How can we do this?

Countries in Europe can do a lot to meet these challenges and utilize the possibilities provided by forests. As a basis we should secure all forest function through sustainable forest management.

National level actions will be the most important in order to meet the challenges. However, cooperation at European level will add significant value to the national actions. Indirect and direct effects of climate change know no borders – and we need to meet these threats jointly in the broadest possible cooperation.

Together we should develop a shared vision, define common goals and identify the supportive actions for the future.

We should join forces to utilise the role of Europe’s forests potential to be a vital part of the solution to climate change

I think it is time to work towards a legal framework on forests in the whole European region for more effective implementation of sustainable forest management.

To secure the broadest possible cooperation, we should utilize the synergies between EU and FOREST EUROPE. We face the same threats, the same challenges and we are aiming at the same goals. We should not limit this cooperation to the 15 per cent of Europe’s forests within the EU borders, but make an effort that covers the entire pan-European region.

Thank you


Extpub | by Dr. Radut