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UNEP’s Europe Director addresses forest ministers

Extreme events are posing an “immense” challenge to forests, the Director of UNEP's Regional Office for Europe Jan Dusik has said in a speech to environment and agriculture ministers in Europe.


Measures therefore need to be taken at national and regional levels to protect forests “urgently” Mr Dusik underlined at the 7th Forest Europe Ministerial Conference taking place on 20-21 October in Madrid.


At the event, European environment and other ministers committed to enhancing the social role of forests and their potential role in the transition to a Green Economy, as well as to protect forests in a changing environment. The decisions will feed into policymaking at national and pan-European level.


Changes in precipitation and temperature and increased frequency of floods and droughts are among the most prominent threats faced by forests - partly because their long lifespan does not allow them to adapt to environmental changes quickly, Mr Dusik noted in his speech.


Ecosystem services provided by forests such as erosion control and water purification should also be included in calculations of their value, the Director added.


Mr Dusik furthermore reported on significant progress made under the Carpathian Convention - which is hosted by UNEP - since the last ministerial meeting. Parties to the Convention have since adopted a Protocol on Sustainable Forest Management and action plan, he noted, while indicators and criteria have also been agreed for selecting virgin forests in the Carpathian mountains.


Two publications were furthermore issued at the conference. One looks at national and regional implementation of political commitments made through Forest Europe resolutions until October’s meeting, while another examines whether 2020 goals related to Europe’s forests are on track for being met.


Out of a total forest area of 215 million hectares in the pan-European area, 150m ha is available for wood supply while 3.7m ha is damaged. UN Sustainable Development Goal number 15 calls on member states to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and sustainably manage forests.


Mr Dusik’s full speech can be read by clicking here.


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