Delegates from 46 different nations have come together and signed a legally binding agreement on forest management. Forest ministers from across Europe have gathered for a three day summit – the sixth Forest Europe conference – in Oslo to shape a resolution regarding the management of Europe’s forests, which is estimated to cover 50 percent of the land surface area.
The delegates also agreed to adopt a second resolution, one that would help shape forest policy over the next decade. Ministers also agreed on a plan to cut the rate of biodiversity loss within forest habitats by half, and moving towards an action plan to stop illegal logging.
“The State of Europe’s Forests 2011” indicated there are 2.52 billion acres of forest in Europe, amounting to 25 percent of the world total. Since 1991, the forest area has expanded in all European regions at a rate of 1.97 million acres per year. Over the same period, the report said, the total growing stock of forests in Europe has increased by 304 billion cubic feet — equivalent to the total combined growing stock of France, Germany and Poland. Europe’s forests have also become denser, it said.
Janusz Zaleki, the polish forestry minister said that European nations needed to ensure that any agreement would be legally binding in order to deliver progress on the matters. He further added that: “In order to effectively protect Europe’s forests, we must not follow the example of other international processes, such as climate negotiations.” According to Zaleki, Poland will use it’s six-month EU presidency to help promote the process of a legally binding agreement.
As well as being beneficial for European forests, the agreement will help the EU towards reaching it’s greenhouse emissions goals. In The State of Europe’s Forests 2011, the report said that Europe’s forest sequestered about 870 million tons of CO2 per year from 2005, about 10 percent of of the continent’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2008