Wilton Park, an academically independent agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, organizes up to 60 policy conferences each year, bringing together decision makers and opinion-formers from around the world to address the most pressing global issues. The Wilton Park Conference on “Forestry: a sectoral response to climate change” represents another conference in this series. The Conference was held from Tuesday, 21 November, to Thursday, 23 November, at Wilton Park Conference Centre in Steyning, West Sussex, UK.
The event was organized and hosted
by the British Forestry Commission, with support from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Attended by about 45 experts on forest and climate change issues, the Conference involved representatives from academia, governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations from more than 15 countries. During the Conference, participants addressed pressing climate change and forestry questions, including: whether the impacts of climate change on boreal, temperate and tropical forest can be predicted, and whether present forestry policy and practice adequately accommodate the current understanding of climate change; what contribution carbon sequestration in forests globally can make to the mitigation of climate change; whether the current international frameworks and agreements are achieving sustainable forestry and reforestation, and whether they are sufficient to stop deforestation and forest degradation; how the national and international forest sectors should respond to climate change in the future; and whether new research, organizational, policy and practice initiatives are required.
The three days of the Conference were divided into eight sessions addressing scientific and political issues regarding forestry and climate change. On Tuesday morning, participants heard welcoming and introductory speeches followed by the opening address delivered by Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment, UK. Throughout the day on Tuesday and Wednesday participants addressed: carbon sequestration; global carbon sources and sinks; current international perspectives and the science and policy interface; forestry options for contributing to climate change mitigation; integrated forest management in Europe; energy and woodfuel; impacts of climate change on forests; and national and international frameworks for current and future policies. On Wednesday afternoon, there were four parallel workshop sessions on: risks and uncertainties; governance and stakeholders; forest sector responses; and commercial projects and research initiatives. On Thursday morning, the final session addressed the implications for future forestry and related environmental and development policies, followed by feedback by rapporteurs from the parallel workshops and presentation of conclusions and “the way forward.”
A field trip was held to the Wiston Estate was held on Thursday afternoon to see the Estate’s woodland management and woodfuel supply, followed by a visit to Chiddingfold and its semi-natural woodland restoration and to Alice Holt Research Forest and its intensive forest monitoring site and carbon dioxide flux station.
The papers presented at the Conference are scheduled to be published by in 2007.