300 Climate Activists Entered the European Parliament
The opening of the state forests exhibition in the European Parliament, by MEP Nils Torvalds (ALDE/Finland), took place on 5 April 2016, as part of a series of events which took place on the occasion of EUSTAFORS’s 10th anniversary of cooperation among state forest organizations at European level.
MEP Nils Torvalds gave a very personal opening statement. “For me,” he said, “the forest is a source of tranquility, joy and revival – a place to relax and to enjoy. In any case, the forest touches us in many ways, also in ways which we might not understand.” He went on to highlight that European forests offer not only environmental or economic benefits, but also have positive social values. It is the practice of sustainable forest management that allows us to benefit from these three very different aspects of European forests.
With regard to climate change, Mr. Torvalds is aware of the unprecedented and urgent challenges. The EU will have to step up to the challenge to successfully meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. There are huge possibilities for climate change mitigation for European forests, but “we will also face some challenges in developing future legislation about what the role of forests can and should be, and how this role should best be accounted for. I am therefore very happy to host this exhibition which is a nice way to highlight the potential of European state forests to contribute to the goals of the EU’s 2020 strategy, the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework and the Paris Agreement for the benefit of society at large.”
Per-Olof Wedin, EUSTAFOR’s President, thanked those EUSTAFOR members who contributed the exhibits – Poland State Forests, Latvijas valsts Meži (Latvia) and the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise (Germany) – and emphasized that the “European state forests are proud to show the practical side of how we manage state forests responsibly for people, climate and nature.” The exhibits presented all the different aspects of sustainable and multifunctional forest management in European state forests, including the contribution of Europe’s forests towards climate change mitigation.
The exhibition was on display during the entire week in the core of the European Parliament building and was very well attended. Foresters from Poland provided visitors with additional explanations and distributed promotional materials including 300 fir seedlings which visitors were invited to take home with them. The saplings carried a message: “This fir is a climate activist! In its lifetime it can bind more than 5 tons of CO2.”
The exhibition was organized with the support of the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development.”