Today, the UN is launching the International Year of Forests at their Headquarters in New York, to raise awareness of sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. The FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference in June 2011 in the Norwegian capital Oslo represents a major European contribution to this important global initiative.
The launch of the International Year of Forests on 2 February takes place in conjunction with the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF9), 24 January-4 February, in New York, USA. The UNFF deliberations will address key challenges of forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication. The FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe on 14-16 June 2011, in Oslo, Norway, will be a major European contribution to the International Year of Forests.
“Benefits of healthy, sustainable forests in Europe go beyond Europe’s borders and make significant contributions globally”, says Norway’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Mr Lars Peder Brekk. Norway holds the FOREST EUROPE chairmanship and hosts the upcoming Ministerial Conference.
The cooperation within FOREST EUROPE has developed sustainable forest management policies and guidelines since 1990. These contribute to the UNFF’s Global Objectives on Forests. Forests, continually expanding, cover 44 percent of Europe and represent 25 per cent of global forests.
Forests for people and nature
Europe’s forests help mitigate climate change by storing carbon in trees, soils and wood products, and can substitute non renewable materials and energy sources. They help preserve biodiversity, secure the water supply and minimise damage from storms, floods and droughts. Forests provide jobs and income - important for over half of Europe’s population living in rural areas. Forests for recreation are also important.
Safeguarding healthy forests
Ministers at the FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference are expected to adopt a vision, goals and targets for Europe’s forests and consider opening negotiations on a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe. Mr. Brekk says: “Our intention is that the Conference will be a milestone in international forest policy and a celebration of the International Year of Forests.”