During the last two days, Madrid has hosted the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference. The conferences addressed issues of the highest relevance regarding current challenges for European forests and the forest sector to ensure the protection of forests and their sustainable management at pan-European level as well as future steps on a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe. Two reports were presented, the FOREST EUROPE report “State of Europe’s Forests 2015” and a mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the goals for European forests and the European 2020 targets for forests, as well as a revised set of pan-European indicators for sustainable forest management.
The European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) was represented at both conferences by its President, Mr. Per-Olof Weding, and by its Executive Director Mr. Piotr Borkowski. In his statement at the Minister’s Roundtable on “Future challenges and opportunities,” Mr. Wedin highlighted the challenges and opportunities for European state forests with respect to climate change, globalization and increasing demands for bioenergy. He confirmed that European state forest organizations have the ability and the ambition to be a powerful tool for the implementation of the decisions of this Ministerial Conference.
At the Ministerial Roundtable “25 years of FOREST EUROPE,” Mr. Wedin gave a joint statement on behalf of the group of forest owners and managers represented by the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR), Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperatives (COPA-COGECA), European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), European Federation of Municipal Forest Owners (FECOF), and Union of Foresters of Southern Europe (USSE).
Mr. Wedin welcomed the Madrid Ministerial Declaration which summarizes and reflects on 25 years of promoting sustainable forest management by the FOREST EUROPE process. He stated that the European public and private forest owners and managers as well as other land owners fully support the ongoing initiative towards further strengthening the current FOREST EUROPE process. They are ready to contribute and take further responsibility towards the next stage of this important process.
Back-to-back with the regular FOREST EUROPE Conference, the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference decided on the outcome of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe. A joint statement on behalf of forest owners and managers underlined the necessity to continue further efforts towards a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe. If successfully agreed, the instrument could greatly support the European forest sector in enhancing its political integrity and consistency. Therefore, forest owners and managers call for a firm commitment and engagement from all responsible ministers and governments to provide strong leadership and guidance towards a future forest convention at pan-European level.
EUSTAFOR’s 29 members (state forest organizations managing state forests) represent around one third of the EU forest area. They are committed to sustainable forest management and work with the existing forest certification schemes. The total harvest of EUSTAFOR members is over 123 million m3 of round timber per annum and together they employ more than 100 000 individuals.