The Helsinki Process, which began in 1990, developed the general guidelines for the sustainable management of forests in Europe. The Process has sought to identify measurable criteria and indicators for the evaluation of how European countries have progressed in their efforts to follow the principles of sustainable forest management and conservation of the biological diversity of European forests. There have been four meetings in this process, two at the ministerial level and two at the expert level.
FIRST MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON THE PROTECTION OF FORESTS IN EUROPE: Ministers from 31 European countries, the European Community and four international organizations met in Strasbourg, France, in December 1990, under the chairmanship of France and Finland, to consider measures toward cooperation on protection and sustainable use of forests. They passed six resolutions and a General Declaration. Resolution S1 established a European Network of Permanent Sample Plots for Monitoring of Forest Ecosystems; S2 addressed conservation of forest genetic resources; S3 organized a decentralized European data bank on forest fires; S4 adapted the management of mountain forests to new environmental conditions; S5 expanded the Eurosilva Network of Research on Tree Physiology; and S6 established a European network for research into forest ecosystems. Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the EC, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Yugoslavia have signed all the Strasbourg resolutions.
SECOND MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON THE PROTECTION OF FORESTS IN EUROPE: The second Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe met in Helsinki, Finland, from 16-17 June 1993. The Conference produced a General Declaration and four resolutions: H1) general guidelines for the sustainable management of forests in Europe; H2) general guidelines for the conservation of the biodiversity of European forests; H3) forestry cooperation with countries with economies in transition; and H4) strategies for a process of long-term adaptation of forests in Europe to climate change. Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, the EC, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the UK signed all four Helsinki resolutions. France and Sweden did not sign H4. The second Ministerial Conference also reviewed progress and implementation of the Strasbourg resolutions. Participants adopted a French proposal assigning each of the resolutions to an international agency or agencies.
FIRST EXPERT LEVEL FOLLOW-UP MEETING OF THE HELSINKI CONFERENCE: A core set of criteria and indicators was adopted at the first expert level follow-up meeting to the Helsinki Process, which was held in Geneva on 23-24 June 1994. The criteria and indicators are the tools for gathering and assessing information on how the signatory States have succeeded in implementing the general guidelines for sustainable forest management, as described in the Helsinki Resolutions. The six European criteria are: (1) maintenance and appropriate enhancement of forest resources and their contribution to global carbon cycles; (2) maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality; (3) maintenance and encouragement of the productive functions of forests (wood and non-wood); (4) maintenance, conservation and appropriate enhancement of biological diversity in forest ecosystems; (5) maintenance and appropriate enhancement of protective functions in forest management (notably soil and water); and (6) maintenance of other socio-economic functions and conditions. The indicators associated with each of the criteria were designed to be scientifically applicable and technically and financially feasible measures to observe the fulfillment of the criteria. A General Coordinating Committee, consisting of Finland, Portugal, Austria and Poland, designed the criteria assisted by the Scientific Advisory Group, an informal advisory unit of scientists from these countries, and input from other experts.
SECOND EXPERT LEVEL FOLLOW-UP MEETING OF THE HELSINKI CONFERENCE: The second expert level follow-up meeting of the Helsinki Process was held in Antalya, Turkey, from 23-24 January 1995. Twenty-nine European country signatories, 10 non-European governments and nine intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations attended the meeting. Participants produced the Antalya Statement as their contribution to the FAO Committee on Forestry (FAO/COFO), reviewed European experiences in using the six criteria and associated indicators adopted in June 1994, and agreed to convene the Third Ministerial Conference, co-chaired by Portugal and Austria, in 1998.
The Antalya Statement recognized that the FAO/COFO and CSD meetings will provide an opportunity to examine proposals and seek consensus on new instruments and arrangements for forest policy. Participants in Antalya, however, decided against including specific suggestions on future European activities under the Helsinki Process, specific recommendations to the CSD for next steps at the global level, or an endorsement of a binding instrument on forests. On criteria and indicators, participants emphasized the previously adopted quantitative indicators, but began to consider more qualitative, descriptive indicators. The Antalya Statement accepted some descriptive indicators for possible use along with the quantitative indicators, but some participants argued that the qualitative indicators did not merit the same consideration as quantitative ones. The experts also reviewed reports of the various indicators associated with each criterion from national questionnaires. They agreed that data collection methods must be clarified before publishing results, and that it was premature or undesirable to identify individual countries in statistical charts.
Additional information and reports from the Helsinki Process, including proceedings of the ministerial conferences, reports of the expert meetings and a review of implementation of the Strasbourg resolutions, is available from the Liaison Office of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, P.O. Box 232, FIN-00171 Helsinki, Finland; tel. +358-0-160-2405; fax +358-0-160-2430.
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