European Forest Week, 20-24 October 2008

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* Forests cover 44 per cent of Europe’s land area and continue to expand.
* Europe’s forests combat climate change by continuously absorbing and storing harmful greenhouse gases.
* In our changing climate, wood, our oldest renewable source of material and energy, is still the smart choice in the 21st century.

All over Europe next week, the forest sector is seeking to raise awareness of the role of forests in addressing key social, economic and political concerns related to issues such as climate change mitigation, market integration, renewable energy supply and many others. Hundreds of in-country events, and regional meetings in Rome and Brussels, will persuade high level policymakers, experts from other sectors, and the general public of the importance of sustainable forest management and explain the many ways in which European forests contribute to the continent’s well being.

The European Forest Week was declared by the ministers responsible for forests of 46 European countries. It is jointly prepared by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Mr. Christopher Prins, Chief of the UNECE/FAO Timber Section, explains:
* “Forest and wood make a major contribution to climate change, but this is not well understood and imperfectly reflected in the current climate change regime.
* Wood is, by far, the most important renewable energy in the UNECE region, and this will grow, to meet the ambitious targets set by policymakers. Sustainable levels are still not clear and there will be tradeoffs with forest industries and biodiversity.
* Forests safeguard water quality and quantity. This role may become more crucial in the face of climate change. Schemes for payment for ecosystem services should be developed.

Addressing these issues, along with many others, the European Forest Week presents an unprecedented opportunity to engage other sectors in a participatory dialogue on forest related issues, and to increase the visibility of the forest sector’s contribution to sustainable development and climate change mitigation. UNECE is working with many partners, during and after the European Forest Week, notably the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, the European Union and many international, civil society and private sector organizations. The programme for the events in Rome brings together partners from all over the region. Additional details relating to the European Forest Week are available at”
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