Ministers responsible for forestry commit to further strengthen the FOREST EUROPE process
The ministers responsible for forestry and other high level representatives from 38 European countries, the European Union and 18 international organisations and stakeholders, including forest owners, gathered in Madrid on 20-21 October 2015, on the occasion of the 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference to strengthen their political commitment to address the various challenges and opportunities for Europe’s forests and the forest sector.

The conferences addressed issues such as forest in a green economy and the need to further enhance forest protection and adaptation towards climate change, by signing two resolutions respective these two important subjects. In addition, a revised set of pan-European indicators for sustainable forest management, 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 was presented.

Acknowledging the key role that FOREST EUROPE has played in the past 25 years in promoting sustainable forest management in Europe, but also being aware of current and future challenges for the sector and the urgent need to invigorateand make this process fit for the future, the ministers also decided to review the FOREST EUROPE process. This important task will be one of key priorities for next Liaison Unit, which will be hosted by the Slovak Republic from 2016 on.

The General Coordinating Committee (GCC) of FOREST EUROPE, which is responsible for fostering and coordinating the process and its activities, currently consists of five member states. In addition to the Slovak Republic, Spain, Germany and Turkey, Sweden steps in as a new member, replacing Norway, which served as one of the former hosting and coordinating countries in this committee.

At the FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference, which took place on 21 October, ministers acknowledged the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) and its outcomes, recognising the enormous efforts invested, and agreed that the draft negotiating text should serve as the basis for future considerations on a Legally Binding Agreement (LBA) for forests in Europe. In addition, they also committed to explore possible ways and to find common ground on the draft convention by 2020 at the latest.

The Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) as well as other member organisations of the major group of forest owners, managers and other land owners were represented and actively involved in the different ministerial roundtables during the two days conference.

The CEPF was represented by the Secretary General Aljoscha Requardt, who provided a statement on behalf of the CEPF on the first day, addressing the future perspectives and challenges of the forest sector and the FOREST EUROPE process in particular.

Reflecting on the 25 years developments and achievements of this important process, a joint statement from the major group of forest owners and managers was delivered and presented at the conference by the EUSTAFOR President Per-Olof Wedin.

A second joint statement on behalf of the major group of forest owners and managers was presented by the CEPF Secretary General Aljoscha Requardt at the extra-ordinary Ministerial Conference, emphasising the major groups support for the Madrid Ministerial Decision and calling once more for a firm commitment and engagement from all responsible ministers and governments to provide their strong leadership and guidance towards a future forest convention at pan-European level.

The respective statements delivered on behalf of CEPF and the major group of forest owners and managers can be downloaded below:

  • CEPF statement: Forest Europe Ministerial conference, roundtable 4 – future challenges and opportunities
  • Joint statement major group forest owners and managers: Forest Europe Ministerial conference, roundtable 5 – 25 years Forest Europe
  • Joint statement major group forest owners and managers: Extra-ordinary Forest Europe Ministerial conference – future perspectives on the LBA

Both joint statements were signed by the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperatives(COPA-COGECA), European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR), European Federation of Municipal Forest Owners (FECOF) and Union of Foresters of Southern Europe (USSE).