The signatories of the joint statement acknowledge the importance of the FOREST EUROPE process for the development and implementation of SFM in European forests. In the 1990s, European Forest Ministers gathered to share their concerns about the health of European forests and to seek solutions to improve it. Since then, FOREST EUROPE has helped to ensure that we have well‑functioning forest monitoring systems, research programmes, gene banks and advanced forest fire prevention systems. It also contributed to the global forest agenda agreed at the UNCED Rio Summit in 1992. It enables SFM to be economically viable at the same time as protecting forest biodiversity, soils, water sources, the use of forest biomass for bioenergy and other purposes. Last but not least, it succeeded in opening a completely new chapter on discussing a legally binding framework for Europe’s forests.
However, it is important to review the FOREST EUROPE process to ensure that today’s challenges in the forest and forest-based sector, which are more complex and demanding than ever, can be met. European forest owners, managers and industries therefore welcome the set-up of the working group on the future direction of FOREST EUROPE. The signatories of the joint statement believe that FOREST EUROPE needs to be able to respond to current and emerging challenges and opportunities, such as climate change, bio- and circular economy, sustainable sourcing of bioenergy, as well as green capital and the marketing of ecosystem services. It is crucial to strengthen FOREST EUROPE now to further develop the sustainable management of European forests and their multi-purpose use for the benefit of everyone. The signatories of the joint statement call for FOREST EUROPE to demonstrate leadership in this regard.
One of the biggest merits of FOREST EUROPE, which involves 46 European governments, the European Commission as well as numerous forest sector stakeholders and other international organizations, is that it enables stakeholders to have open and constructive dialogue. European forest owners, managers and industries will play an active part in the review process and contribute to the elaboration of a report by the end of 2017 to ensure that FOREST EUROPE is stronger and more effective in the future.
The joint statement was issued by major public and private forest owners, managers, other land owners and forest-based industries, represented by the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF), European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperatives (COPA and 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), the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) and the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois).