EUSTAFOR President speaks at the International Conference on Forests for Biodiversity and Climate

In the context of protecting biodiversity and working for a climate-neutral and climate-resilient Europe, DG Environment organized an International Conference on Forest for Biodiversity and Climate on 4-5 February 2020 in Brussels.

The conference was also used to announce the launch of the Forest Information System for Europe (FISE), that should serve as an information sharing platform within the forest community on Europe’s forest environment, its state and development.

This two-day event included seven topical panels:

  • Forest vulnerability and adaptation to climate change
  • Protecting and restoring the world’s forests -The EU responsibility
  • Forest management practices and funding that promote high biodiversity-value ecosystems
  • Work in partnership with producing countries to protect and restore forests
  • Equipping the EU with the necessary forest information – Launch of the Forest
  • Information System for Europe (FISE)
  • Forests as allies for climate change mitigation
  • Manage land to prevent forest fires

Each panel brought plenty of speakers and experts, coming from different EU Institutions, academia, forest stakeholders, environmental NGOs, international organizations. Each panel brought a lot of discussion and there was quite high interest from the present audience. Detailed agenda with the names of all speakers of the event can be found here.

EUSTAFOR’s President, Reinhardt Neft, was one of the invited speakers for the panel “Forest management practices and funding that promote high biodiversity-value ecosystems”. In his speech, Mr. Neft gave a short insight into how State Forest Management Organizations are taking care of biodiversity but, at the same time, they are also affected by climate change impacts on their daily business. Forests provide a home for thousands of bird, mammal, insect, and plant species. About 50% of the Natura 2000 sites (37,5 million hectares) are forests, of which 8 million hectares are situated in state forests. An additional 16 million hectares of state forests provide benefits resulting from their protected or protective status. Management practices applied in state forestry clearly show that the ecological functions of forest ecosystems and biodiversity can be maintained in managed forests along with all other functions. Concluding his speech, Mr. Neft underlined that EUSTAFOR and its members are aware of their major role as ecosystem services providers and are willing to contribute to further promoting biodiversity in forests. Therefore, we are emphasizing the fact that ensuring sustainable and multi-purpose management of forests is necessary to balance and fulfil all environmental, societal and economical needs. Ensuring the continuity of sustainable management of the resource we hold in our hands is the only solution for forests to adapt to the changing climatic conditions and remain an effective and long term carbon sink, serving climate change mitigation while not neglecting other functions.

As stakeholders directly concerned by the future decisions regarding the European forests and their management, including biodiversity, EUSTAFOR believes that sustainable forest management is the key solution to keep our forests healthy and resilient, thus biodiverse. Sustainable and multifunctional forest management, as applied in European state forests, aims to balance the complex and sometimes conflicting sets of demands on forests, for the benefit of all.

The role of forest managers is crucial in achieving the goals proposed by the EU Green Deal related to both biodiversity and climate change. Our concern is that this, along with the multifunctional role of forests, was almost completely overlooked at the conference. Still, we welcome all efforts by the European Commission to address current issues and we remain open to sharing our success stories but also to identify those areas that need improvement.

The full video of the conference and further details can be found here.

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Published 10/02/2020

Ms. Amila Meškin

Policy and Communications Advisor

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