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FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference Bulletin
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Volume 180 Number 2 - Saturday, 18 June 2011
SUMMARY OF FOREST EUROPE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
14-16 JUNE 2011

The FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference was held from Tuesday, 14 to Thursday, 16 June 2011 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, in Oslo, Norway. The Conference was attended by ministers responsible for forests, high-level representatives of 43 European countries and the European Community, as well as representatives of 29 observer organizations and six observer countries. The conference provided an opportunity to discuss and take decisions on the future of the protection and sustainable management of forests in Europe.

Conference participants adopted the Oslo Ministerial Mandate for Negotiating a Legally Binding Agreement (LBA) on Forests in Europe, as well as the Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020, which outlines a vision, goals, targets and actions for Europe’s forests. Many delegates considered adoption of these documents a historical moment for European forests, one that will shape forest policy over the next decade. The negotiations on the LBA are expected to begin later in 2011, and to conclude by mid-2013.

Delegates heard statements from signatory and observer countries on national forest management activities, and from several intergovernmental organizations. Other highlights of the conference included: a multi-stakeholder panel debate; a poster session presenting countries’ and organizations’ achievements in implementing sustainable forest management (SFM); the launch of the report “State of European Forests 2011”; a signing ceremony for the Ministerial Mandate and Decision; and an excursion to the forests of Oslo.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FOREST EUROPE

FOREST EUROPE, officially named the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (and previously referred to as MCPFE), is a high-level political initiative working towards the protection and sustainable management of forests throughout the European region. Forty-six European countries and the European Union, in cooperation with a range of international organizations, are involved in this initiative. The chairmanship of FOREST EUROPE is rotated amongst signatory countries.

MCPFE 1: The first MCPFE took place in Strasbourg, France, on 18 December 1990. Recognizing increasing threats to European forests and the need for cross-border protection, participants agreed to initiate scientific and technical cooperation in Europe, and the incorporation of scientific data into political action. They adopted a General Declaration and six resolutions on: a European network of permanent sample plots for the monitoring of forest ecosystems; conservation of forest genetic resources; a decentralized European Data Bank on forest fires; adapting the management of mountain forests to new environmental conditions; expansion of the EUROSILVA Network of research on tree physiology; and a European network for research on forest ecosystems.

MCPFE 2: MCPFE 2 was held in Helsinki, Finland, from 16-17 June 1993. Building on the Strasbourg Resolutions and responding to many of the forest-related decisions adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, participants adopted a General Declaration and four resolutions on: general guidelines for SFM in Europe; general guidelines for the conservation of the biodiversity of European forests; forestry cooperation with countries with economies in transition; and strategies for a process of long-term adaptation of forests in Europe to climate change.

MCPFE 3: MCPFE 3 was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 2-4 June 1998. The Conference focused on the socioeconomic aspects of SFM and affirmed important outcomes of the Helsinki follow-up process. Participants adopted a General Declaration and two resolutions on: people, forests and forestry – enhancement of socioeconomic aspects of SFM; and pan-European criteria, indicators and operational level guidelines for SFM.

MCPFE 4: MCPFE 4 was held in Vienna, Austria, from 28-30 April 2003. Conference participants adopted the Vienna Living Forest Summit Declaration “European Forests - Common Benefits, Shared Responsibilities,” and five resolutions on: strengthening synergies for SFM in Europe through cross-sectoral cooperation and national forest programmes; enhancing the economic viability of SFM in Europe; preserving and enhancing the social and cultural dimensions of SFM in Europe; conserving and enhancing forest biological diversity in Europe; and climate change and SFM in Europe.

MCPFE 5: MCPFE 5 was held in Warsaw, Poland, from 5-7 November 2007. Conference participants adopted the Warsaw Declaration and resolutions on “Forests, Wood and Energy” and “Forests and Water.” These resolutions focus, inter alia, on the role of forests in energy production, mitigating climate change and protecting water quality and quantity. Ministers also adopted Ministerial Statements on the Southern European forest fires and on declaring 20-24 October 2008 as the Pan-European Forest Week 2008.

PREPARATIONS FOR FOREST EUROPE OSLO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE: Under the chairmanship of Norway, several expert-level and working group meetings took place between 2008 and 2011 in preparation for this Ministerial Conference. In 2010 and 2011, expert-level meetings were held with representatives from signatory countries on 23-24 March 2010, 14-15 December 2010, and 30-31 March 2011, to prepare and adopt draft documents to be presented for decision at the Ministerial Conference, on a European Forests 2020 strategy and a mandate to negotiate an LBA on European forests. Working groups on a possible LBA for Europe and on sustainability criteria for forest biomass production were also convened from 2009-2011. Following guidelines provided by MCPFE 5, the MCPFE was rebranded as “FOREST EUROPE,” as a way to increase visibility of the initiative and of forests in Europe.

REPORT OF FOREST EUROPE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

OPENING PLENARY

On Tuesday, HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway opened the Ministerial Conference and welcomed participants to Norway. He noted the role forests play in society, economy, biodiversity, and climate change and stressed cooperation and good governance for sustainable forest management (SFM), noting the collaborative efforts of Forest Europe.

Lars Peder Brekk, Co-Chair of the meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Food of Norway, praised SFM policies introduced in the 20th century in Norway and called for FOREST EUROPE to continue delivering tools for SFM as they have done since joint efforts began in 1990.

Rosa Aguilar Rivero, Co-Chair, Minister of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs of Spain, recognized that adaptation of forest legislation and regulation in Europe has increased since 2003, but stressed that there is more work left to be done, calling for the quick development of a legally binding agreement (LBA).

Dag Terje Andersen, President of the Norwegian Parliament, said forest management concerns social and economic equity and good governance, calling for investment in forests as a renewable resource.

The meeting agenda was then adopted by acclamation.

KEYNOTE ADDRESSES: Victor Nikolayevich Maslyakov, Head of Federal Forestry Agency, Russian Federation, outlined national activities under the auspices of the International Year of Forests 2011, including development of forest education and SFM. He listed forest-related challenges in his country, including combating forest fires and illegal logging. He supported the development of an LBA for European forests, and called for a transparent process involving all stakeholders.

José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, Director-General, European Commission (EC), on behalf of Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, highlighted the growing importance of forests and timber on the environmental and economic international agenda. He noted continued challenges in coordinating policies in Europe, and underlined increased fragility of European forests due to climate-change related diseases, storms, droughts and fires.

EUROPE’S FORESTS – CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Co-Chair Brekk introduced this thematic session on Tuesday.

STATE OF EUROPE’S FORESTS 2011: Christopher Prins, international forest expert, presented the report “State of Europe’s Forests 2011,” highlighting its comprehensive, fact-based nature. In reviewing its principal findings, he stated that, inter alia: European forests are expanding and remove the equivalent of about ten percent of European greenhouse gas emissions; the sector provides four million jobs and accounts for one percent of the region’s gross domestic product; and the low carbon-nitrogen ratio in forest soils will be problematic in several locations. He said a draft method had been developed to assess European forests’ sustainability, which had identified a number of threats and challenges, including: landscape fragmentation; a shrinking and aging workforce; negative net revenues of several forest enterprises; and mobilizing enough wood for energy while reconciling biodiversity values and the needs of the traditional wood sectors.

EUROPEAN FORESTS IN A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: Frances Seymour, Director General, Centre for International Forestry Research, observed that key challenges, strategies, and priorities are not only important to stakeholders in Europe, but also in other regions.

Representatives of six Major Groups made interventions. Rasmus Hansson, Chief Executive Officer, WWF-Norway, on behalf of environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), welcomed efforts towards an LBA, saying targets and goals should consider future objectives and challenges.

Filip De Jaeger, Secretary General, European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, on behalf of Business and Industry, noted the industry’s role in a green economy and support of the LBA, providing that it offers a basis for competitiveness to forest-based industries.

Christer Segersteen, President, European Confederation of Forest Owners, on behalf of Farmers and Small Forest Landowners, supported the LBA, noting its importance to ensuring stable policy development for the maintenance of forests’ multi-functionality.

Risto Päivinen, Director, European Forest Institute (EFI), on behalf of the Scientific and Technological Community, expressed commitment to SFM work programmes, particularly to address monitoring systems and forest-related issues, including, inter alia, climate change, water, biodiversity, and bioenergy.

Håkan Nystrand, President, Union of European Foresters, on behalf of social NGOs, said the LBA should lay the foundation for an effective means to enhance the role of forests in climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and a low carbon economy.

Juliette Mouche, Head of the International Forestry Student Association’s Commission for FOREST EUROPE, expressed hope that the LBA would lead to concrete and prompt actions and stressed fostering active participation of youth.

Three additional panelists offered comments. Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director General of Forestry at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), stated that more attention should be paid to the potential of semi-natural forests, and called for further mobilization of forests’ potential to address the energy crisis.

Pedro Ochoa, Technical Adviser, European Investment Bank, welcomed the development of an LBA to promote responsible forestry activities. He noted that forestry producers are now becoming renewable energy producers, and that the bioenergy sector was having difficulty agreeing on sustainability criteria.

Tim Rollinson, Director General, UK Forestry Commission, commented on forests’ multi-functionality, and said that Europe’s experience with reforestation can provide lessons for replacing lost forests globally.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates raised concerns on: the low value added by wood-based bioenergy; European bioenergy use causing deforestation in other regions; balancing bioenergy needs and biodiversity values; the lack of emphasis being placed on social aspects of forestry; and difficulties in communicating with stakeholders outside the forest sector. Others welcomed the role of forests in a green economy, underlined putting environment and production on an equal footing, and called for a balance between demand-side requirements and supply-side management standards.

In closing, Ochoa called for sustainability standards for imported wood. Rojas-Briales noted that low value wood products could be used for bioenergy, which will help reduce forest fires. Rollinson said the European forest sector could show leadership on the green economy, and put society at the heart of its definition.

STATEMENTS BY SIGNATORY COUNTRIES

This session took place in the form of two ministerial roundtables on Tuesday afternoon, moderated by Co-Chair Rivero, and Wednesday morning, moderated by Co-Chair Brekk.

On Tuesday, Fatmir Mediu, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration, Albania, outlined his country’s new forestry reform focused on SFM, including decentralization of ownership of more than 50% of forests and pasture, and highlighted improved forestry services, management of forest fires and prevention of illegal logging.

Nikolaus Berlakovich, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Austria, stated Austria’s commitment to ambitious targets for renewable energy, including from sustainably produced biomass, and called for quick finalization of the LBA.

Mikhail Amelyanovich, Belarus Minister of Forestry, reviewed implementation of SFM principles in Belarus’ national forest programme, including through certification, participation in forest law enforcement and governance (FLEG) programmes and innovative reforestation technologies.

Philippe Blerot, General Inspector of the Department of Nature and Forests, Belgium, underscored the need to take advantage of synergies with other international processes related to forests, and highlighted the use of criteria and indicators in a new sub-national forest law.

Georgi Kostov, Deputy Minister, Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, reviewed a recently passed national forest act and a long-term national programme on renewable energy.

Herman Susnik, State Secretary, Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management, Croatia, urged support for the LBA, and praised FOREST EUROPE for identifying mechanisms that address forest adaptation challenges.

Charalampos Alexandrou, Deputy Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment, Cyprus, stated that the LBA will be beneficial for forests, society, the environment and our common future, and will increase visibility outside of the forest sector. 

Gertrud Knudsen, Head of Division on Biodiversity and Nature Planning, Ministry of the Environment, Nature Agency, Denmark, recognized how far FOREST EUROPE has come since 1990, identifying current challenges such as meeting expected needs for wood, renewable energy, and biodiversity.

José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, Director General, Directorate General of Agriculture and Rural Development, EC, recognized that rebranding MCPFE as “FOREST EUROPE” has assisted in communicating forests’ value and role to society.

Describing revised national forestry programmes, Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland, noted the positive impacts of FOREST EUROPE on Finland’s SFM, saying that the 2011 State of Finnish Forests Report is based on pan-European criteria.

Hervé Gaymard, Chair of the National Forestry Board, France, said it is important that forests are seen as more than just a service for biodiversity, climate change and energy. He praised the draft decision and mandate, saying they are technically and politically remarkable.

Marika Valishvili, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Georgia, highlighted the important role of forests in Georgia and identified national challenges to SFM, including political instability. 

Peter Bleser, Parliamentary State Secretary, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Germany, noted that the LBA will be a positive signal to non-European partners in the promotion of SFM, and announced a conference in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) on the contribution of forests in a green economy.

Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister of the Environment, Iceland, stated that the Ministerial Decision on European Forests will set out important guidance for the protection and use of Europe’s forests, particularly for issues of common concern that require collective action.

Shane McEntee, Minister of State for Forestry, Ireland, underscored that benefits from forests should not be measured in economic terms alone.

Arvids Ozols, on behalf of Janis Duklavs, Minister of Agriculture, Latvia, noted that the goals and targets set by the Oslo Ministerial Decision would ensure the role of forests in the transition to a green economy.

Henk Soorsma, Member of Management Team, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Netherlands, called for a more sustainable timber trade, and adequate financing of forest management through the mobilization of resources from the private sector.

Alexander Panfilov, Deputy Head, Federal Forestry Agency, Russian Federation, prioritized: implementing innovative technologies and forest management techniques; developing forest education; and moving towards a green economy.

Andreas Götz, Vice Director, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland, noted that an LBA would help to communicate a 360 degree picture of forests to those outside the forest sector, and urged that SFM remain an evolving concept.

Lars Peder Brekk, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Norway, underscored Europe’s ability to share the transparent and participatory experience of FOREST EUROPE with other regions and processes.

On Wednesday, Keit Pentus, Minister of the Environment, Estonia, said SFM is not only about trees and wood, but also about people, and outlined national forest programmes. 

Endre Kardeván, State Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Hungary, discussed a national forest act passed in 2009 that ensures protection of state-owned forests, and underlined forests’ role in carbon storage and sequestration.

Jiri Novak, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Czech Republic, said all forest policies should be evaluated for their impacts on employment, stating that commitments should focus on carbon stock capacity and not only on climate change mitigation.

Giovanni Umberto De Vito, Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forest Policies, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forest Policies, Italy, said finding a balance between the protective and productive functions of forests will be the real challenge for the LBA negotiations.

Gediminas Kazlauskas, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, explained how national SFM implementation has increased forest coverage and growing stock in last 20 years, noting ecosystem services as a current challenge for the forestry sector.

Marco Schank, Minister for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Luxembourg, questioned whether actions taken in Europe were sufficient to address forest governance and illegal logging globally. He noted that an LBA would help to protect forests against adverse decisions taken in other sectors.

Tarzan Milošević, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Montenegro, reported on the adoption of a national forest policy and law, as well as a national plan for combating illegal forest activities, and the establishment of a sustainable private forestry sector.

Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of the Environment, Poland, called for including monitoring activities in the LBA, and brought attention to payments for ecosystem services as a means of preserving forests’ regulatory functions.

Cristian Apostol, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Romania, said national priorities included: afforestation activities; inventory updates; prevention of illegal logging; and support to forest owner associations.Sasa Orlovic, Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management, Serbia, reported on the adoption in Serbia of a forest development strategy and forest law based on SFM.

Gabriel Csicsai, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Slovak Republic, said it is necessary to focus on communicating the need for the full integration of forests into the green economy agenda.

Tanja Strniša, State Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Slovenia, highlighted the benefits of using a participatory approach when adopting and implementing a national forestry programme, including strengthened national cooperation.

José Jiménez García-Herrera, Director General, Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, Spain, called for work on fire protection and unsafe soil nitrogen levels, noting that future agreements should have a clear added value.

Eskil Erlandsson, Minister of Rural Affairs, Sweden, said Sweden does not believe in common legislation to develop and implement SFM across Europe, but rather supports a voluntary option. Recognizing many other countries’ preference for an LBA, he accepted such negotiations, saying a framework agreement is the most suitable model, as it would leave flexibility for national and regional implementation.

Mustafa Kurtulmuslu, Director General of Forestry, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Turkey, outlined country programmes, particularly those addressing fire protection and soil erosion, and highlighted an international training center offering technical support to the region. 

Yaroslav Makarchuk, First Deputy Head, State Forest Resources Agency, Ukraine, described activities undertaken since MCPFE 5, including, amongst others, a forest code, national targets for 2010 and 2015, and a legal framework. 

Stephen Lowe, Head of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom, stressed the non-market value of forests for health and well-being, and said forestry is a solution for many global challenges, including meeting the Millennium Development Goals. 

STATEMENTS BY INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Statements by intergovernmental organizations were heard during the second ministerial roundtable on Wednesday.

Jean Christophe Bouvier, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underlined the importance of economic valuation of forest ecosystem services, as well as an ecosystem approach to forest management.

Eladio Fernández-Galiano, Council of Europe, called for an ambitious LBA that takes into account forests’ multifunctionality, as well as considers the objectives of the three Rio Conventions and forest fire management.

Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO, outlined the commitment of FAO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to supporting forestry in the region, and commended the LBA’s ability to proactively set the future forest agenda.

Gerhard Breulmann, International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), reviewed his organization’s activities on sustainable management of tropical forests, saying he looks forward to fostering collaborations with European countries.

Takeshi Goto, Montreal Process, outlined continued collaboration between the Montreal Process and other criteria and indicator processes, including FOREST EUROPE, and invited organizations to an upcoming meeting in Victoria, Canada, from 17 to 21 October 2011, to, inter alia, streamline forest reporting requirements.

Marta Szigeti Bonifert, Regional Environmental Center, noted her organization was prepared to assist FOREST EUROPE with activities related to regional cooperation, transnational work, education and stakeholder dialogues.

Andre Vasilyev, UNECE, highlighted collaborating with FAO and FOREST EUROPE to produce the “State of Europe’s Forests 2011” report, and noted an upcoming UNECE/FAO meeting on forests in a green economy, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 4 to 6 July 2011.

Jan McAlpine, UNFF, brought attention to the Forum’s current focus on social aspects of forests, and the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the ninth session of UNFF, which includes the need to solve forest financing and consider a comprehensive approach to forests. She further noted that the International Year of Forests 2011 logo and promotional material, along with films from the International Forest Film Festival launched in January 2011, are available for use by all countries.

Marco Onida, Secretary General, Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, said the Alpine Convention is the first international treaty for mountain areas, with the main objectives to preserve inter alia, the natural habitat of the area, forests, and biodiversity.

STATEMENTS BY OBSERVER COUNTRIES

Statements by observer countries were heard on Wednesday afternoon.

Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Cameroon, provided an overview of Cameroon’s forests and achievements, mentioning certification, reforestation, protected areas, new funding resources and support from the government.

Mike Allen Hammah, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana, said in 2011 Ghana enhanced SFM implementation by planting trees in the northern part of the country, and developing and testing a monitoring and evaluation framework for policies and programmes. 

Takeshi Goto, Counselor for International Forest Resource Analysis, Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Japan is one of the most forested countries in the world, with planted forests making up 40% of the country’s forested area, and highlighted management of planted forests as a main challenge.

Abdeladim Lhafi, Minister, High Commission on Water and Forests and Combating Desertification, Morocco, described national strategies for the preservation and sustainable management of forests, stressing the importance of including all stakeholders in all stages of strategy and project development.

Biimyrza Toktoraliev, Director, State Agency of Environmental Protection, Kyrgyzstan, discussed the fragility of his country’s mountain ecosystems and highlighted a national forest inventory, and forest law and management strategy.

Talbak Salimov, Chairman, Committee of Environmental Protection, Tajikistan, outlined a national forestry development strategy, including the production of medically valuable plants and trees, and called for high carbon-emitting countries to finance forestry in low-emitting countries.

SIGNING CEREMONY AND CLOSING OF THE CONFERENCE

On Wednesday afternoon, Co-Chair Brekk presented the two Ministerial documents, “Oslo Ministerial Mandate for Negotiating a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe” and “Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020.” Delegates then adopted the two documents by acclamation. A signing ceremony was held, during which Ministers and Heads of Delegations of the Signatory States signed the Oslo Ministerial Mandate and Decision.

Co-Chair Brekk invited Turkey to replace Poland on the General Coordinating Committee, which has the task of facilitating and coordinating the work of FOREST EUROPE. Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of the Environment, Poland, expressed gratitude to the countries for their cooperation during all activities. Mustafa Kurtulmuslu, Director General of Forestry, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Turkey, accepted the invitation on behalf of his country.

Co-Chair Brekk passed the chairmanship of FOREST EUROPE to Spain. He lauded the successful achievements of the Ministerial Conference, saying it has contributed significantly to forest sustainability and left participants with three messages, to: enter negotiations with an open mind; focus on the future and future role of forests; and not forget about the need for increased international cooperation.  He gaveled the meeting to a close at 3:16pm. 

EXCURSION TO FORESTS OF OSLO

On Thursday, delegates participated in an excursion to the Oslo Opera House and the forests of Oslo.

SUMMARY OF THE OSLO MINSTERIAL MANDATE AND DECISION

OSLO MINISTERIAL MANDATE FOR NEGOTIATING A LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT ON FORESTS IN EUROPE

The Mandate includes a preamble, a decision to undertake negotiations on an LBA, and annexed rules of procedure for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC).

The preamble focuses on: SFM and climate change mitigation and other ecosystem services; economic functions of forests and their role in a green economy; illegal logging and related trade and strengthening forest law enforcement and governance; accessibility of forest information; national sovereignty and the added value of European cooperation; and public awareness.

The representatives of signatories of FOREST EUROPE decide to: elaborate an LBA on forests in Europe; establish an INC with the mandate to develop the LBA; establish a Bureau for the INC consisting of the Chair and representatives of Austria, Czech Republic, France, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine, and Spain as permanent observer; and nominate Jan Heino (Finland) as the Chair. They further decide that the INC will base its work on existing FOREST EUROPE resolutions and declarations and relevant international commitments relating to forests, as well as the Non-paper On A Possible LBA on Forests in Europe.

They decide that the holistic legally binding framework agreement will address, inter alia:

  • ensuring SFM in Europe;
  • maintaining and enhancing forest resources, their health, vitality, resilience and adaptation to climate change;
  • increasing resilience to natural hazards and human-induced threats;
  • enhancing forests’ contributions to climate change mitigation;
  • enhancing protective and productive forest functions;
  • halting the loss of biodiversity and combating desertification;
  • creating and maintaining enabling conditions for European forests to contribute to a green economy, employment and rural and urban development;
  • maintaining and enhancing cultural and social forest functions;
  • reducing, with the aim of eliminating, illegal logging and associated trade;
  • improving forest knowledge; and,
  • enhancing participation and cooperation on forests at all levels.

The representatives of signatories request that the INC consider, inter alia: the importance of flexibility for national adjustments and future changes; global discussions on possible improvement of international arrangements on forests; avoiding duplication of actions provided in other international agreements; seeking stakeholder participation; and the possibility of the agreement being brought under the UN umbrella.

They further decide that INC participation will be open to FOREST EUROPE signatories, and invite observer states and organizations to participate. They request the Liaison Unit and invite UNECE, FAO, UNEP and EFI to service jointly the negotiating process. They decide that the INC will commence work not later than 31 December 2011 with the goal of completing its work not later than 30 June 2013 and that the results will be presented at an extraordinary FOREST EUROPE ministerial conference for possible adoption and opening for signature.

The annex to the Mandate outlines the rules and procedures for the negotiating process, including on: the purpose; definitions; place and dates of up to four sessions; the agenda; representation; the Bureau; responsibilities of the Secretariat; languages; conduct of business; adoption and voting on decisions; and observers.

An annex to the rules of procedure outlines the distribution of roles among the Liaison Unit, UNECE, FAO, UNEP and EFI. The Liaison Unit will be charged with arrangements facilitation, support and communication activities, as well as liaising with countries, process and stakeholders. UNECE, FAO and UNEP will service INC and its Bureau meetings, provide legal advice and advice on synergies with other agreements, and provide analysis and information. EFI will provide independent scientific and policy advice.  

OSLO MINISTERIAL DECISION: EUROPEAN FORESTS 2020          

The Ministerial Decision includes a preamble, a vision for forests in Europe, goals, targets for 2020, the mission of FOREST EUROPE, and European and national actions.

The preamble focuses on: strengthening cooperation, coherence, and joint actions between European states regarding SFM and forest-related policy development; commitments to other regional and global objectives, commitments, policies and conventions; the use of forests and forest lands so as to maintain their relevant ecological, economic and social functions; the role of forests in climate change mitigation and potential in fostering a green economy and for generating sustainable jobs; the need to strengthen FLEG; and the value of adequate and accessible forest information.

The representatives of signatories of FOREST EUROPE share the vision to shape a future where all European forests are vital, productive and multifunctional, and contribute to sustainable development, and where their potential to support a green economy, livelihoods, climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, enhancing water quality and combating desertification is realized.

They decide on the following goals for Europe’s forests, that:

  • SFM ensures multiple forest functions;
  • Europe’s forests contribute to a green economy;
  • forest management is being adapted to changes in climate;
  • forests are healthy and resilient and productive and protective forest functions are maintained;
  • forests’ potential for climate change mitigation is utilized;
  • forest biodiversity loss is halted, degraded forests are restored or rehabilitated, and forests’ role in combating desertification is strengthened;
  • socioeconomic and cultural benefits are optimized; and,
  • illegal logging and associated trade are eliminated in Europe.
  • They further decide on the following targets by 2020 for Europe:
  • all countries have developed and are implementing national forest programmes (NFPs);
  • forest knowledge is improved;
  • in response to the objective on the use of renewable raw material and energy, supply of wood and other forest products from sustainable managed forests has increased substantially;
  • full value of forest ecosystem services is being estimated;
  • all countries include strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation in NFPs;
  • the rate of forest biodiversity loss is at least halved, and measures are taken to significantly reduce forest fragmentation and degradation;
  • forests’ role in combating desertification is fully recognized and forests managed to that end;
  • all countries have measures to ensure a significant increase in socio-economic and cultural benefits; and
  • effective measures are taken at regional, sub-regional and national levels to eliminate illegal logging and associated trade.

Representatives of signatories decide that FOREST EUROPE will enhance the cooperation on forest policies in Europe and secure and promote SFM by: developing and updating policies and tools for SFM; monitoring, assessing and facilitating implementation of commitments; promoting education and research; facilitating sharing of experiences; and raising awareness of contributions of FOREST EUROPE to SFM.

In terms of European and national actions, they further endorse the Pan-European Guidelines for Afforestation and Reforestation and encourage continued refinement of forest classification. They also decide to develop a FOREST EUROPE work programme, which, in parallel with the INC, will address: further development of SFM and its tools; further improvement in forest monitoring and reporting; strengthened efforts against illegal logging and associated trade; and valuation of forest ecosystem services.

Representatives of signatories commit to further develop and implement national policies for SFM, monitor and report on progress in achieving the 2020 targets, and identify and implement national actions to fulfill the shared vision, goals and targets. They encourage potential donors to support the development and implementation of NFPs, particularly in countries with economies in transition.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Oslo REDD Exchange 2011: This workshop is organized by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. The workshop will focus on safeguards and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), with a particular emphasis on the exchange of experiences from the field. dates: 23-24 June 2011 location: Oslo, Norway www: http://www.pfbc-cbfp.org/events_en/events/Norway_developpment_cooperation_REDD_E.html

UNECE/FAO Workshop: Payments for Ecosystems Services: What role for a green economy? The UN Economic Commission for Europe UNECE and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment and the Finnish Environment Institute, are organizing a workshop to discuss the role of payment for ecosystem services for the green economy. The workshop will address issues linked to payments for different ecosystem services, particularly in the forest and water sectors, to explain the sectoral relevance of environmental research linked to the valuation and payment of ecosystem service. dates: 4-6 July 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: UNECE Secretariat email: margaret.muindi@unece.org www: http://timber.unece.org/index.php?id=329

UNECE Workshop on Forests and Water in Drylands: A Virtuous Cycle: UNECE is convening a Workshop on “Forests and Water in Drylands: A Virtuous Cycle,” which will offer an information exchange from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. dates: 7-8 July 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: UNECE Secretariat e-mail:margaret.muindi@unece.org www: http://www.unece.org/env/water/meetings/forest_water_drylands_workshop.html

International Conference on Forest Tenure, Governance and Enterprise: Experiences and Opportunities for Asia in a Changing Context: Organized by Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the International Timber Trade Organization (ITTO), this conference aims to promote an assessment of the relationship between forest tenure, sustainable forest management and income generating enterprises to promote action across a range of Asian countries. It will bring together stakeholders from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond and follow-up on RRI-ITTO organized international tenure conferences held in Acre, Brazil, in July 2007, and Yaoundé, Cameroon, in May 2009. dates: 11-15 July 2011 location: Lombok, Indonesia contact: Eduardo Mansur email:mansure@itto.int phone: +81 45 223 1110 fax: +81 45 223 1111 www: http://www.itto.int/workshop_detail/id=2581

Contributions of Forests to a Green Economy: Germany, with support from Finland and Austria, is hosting the conference “Contributions of Forests to a Green Economy.” This conference is a country-led initiative in support of the work of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) and is one of Germany’s activities to celebrate the “International Year of Forests”. The results of the conference shall also feed into the preparatory process of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20). dates: 4-7 October 2011 location: Bonn, Germany contact: UNFF Secretariat email: matthias.schwoerer@bmelv.bund.de, daniel.haas@bmz.bund.de www: http://esango.un.org/irene/index.html?page=viewContent&nr=16162&type=8&section=8

Joint Session of the UNECE Timber Committee and the FAO European Forestry Commission: The Action Plan on the Role of the Forest Sector in a Green Economy is intended to provide policymakers with ideas for ways and means of improving and promoting the forest sector’s contribution to a green economy. It could be presented to UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) as a practical contribution to greener economies in the UNECE region. dates: 10-14 October 2011 location: Antalya, Turkey contact: UNECE Forestry and Timber Section phone: +41 22 917 1286 fax: +41 22 917 0041 email:info.timber@unece.org www: http://www.fao.org/forestry/efc/31913/en/

Fifth Latin American Forestry Congress (CONFLAT V): The fifth Latin American Forestry Congress, co-sponsored by the ITTO, Peru’s La Molina National Agrarian University and Peru’s National Forestry Chamber, will discuss: forests and climate change; degraded areas and reforestation; forest governance in Latin America; advances in forestry zoning in tropical forests; and the international market, value-added and environmental services of forests. dates: 18-21 October 2011 location: Lima, Peru phone: +511 651 6197 email: cnf-vconflat@cnf.org.pe

Montreal Process Working Group Meeting: The Montreal Process will hold a working group meeting to discuss criteria and indicator processes. date: 17-21 October 2011 location: Victoria, Canada contact: Takeshi Goto phone: +81 3 3591 8449 fax: +81 3 3593 9565 email: takeshi_goto@nm.maff.go.jp

ITTC-47: The 47th meeting of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-47) and associated sessions of the four committees will be held in Antigua, Guatemala in 2011. date: 14-19 November 2011 location: Antigua, Guatemala contact: ITTO Secretariat phone: +81 45 223 1110 fax: +81 45 223 1111 email:itto@itto.or.jp www: http://www.itto.int

UNCSD: This meeting is also referred to as Rio+20. The UN General Assembly, in December 2009, adopted a resolution calling for a UNCSD to be convened in Brazil in 2012. This meeting will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. date: 4-6 June 2012 location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil email:uncsd2012@un.orgwww: http://www.uncsd2012.org/

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The FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Jennifer Covert and Reem Hajjar. The Digital Editor is Francis Dejon. The Editor is Leonie Gordon <leonie@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by Forest Europe. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.

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