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Fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe

Published: 7/12/2009

The Fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) was held on 5-7 November 2007 in Warsaw, Poland.
The Summit brought together delegations from 42 European countries, the European Community, five observer countries and 28 observer organizations to discuss how forests can improve and benefit the quality of life. At the end of the conference, the Signatory States and the European Community adopted the Warsaw Declaration and two Ministerial Resolutions.

The Warsaw Declaration recognizes the role of forests and their sustainable management in climate change mitigation and highlights the need to ensure adaptation of forests and forest management to climate change. As part of the Declaration, European countries also reinforced their commitment to conserve and enhance the biological diversity of forests, including their genetic resources, through sustainable forest management.

Warsaw Resolution 1 (Forests, Wood and Energy) urges the countries and the European Community to enhance the contributions of the forest sector to energy production and mobilization of wood resources.

Warsaw Resolution 2 (Forests and Water) called for action to coordinate policies on forests and water, as well as to promote the management of fresh water resources as part of sustainable forest management.

In addition, the conference declared the week of 20-24 October 2008 to be the Pan-European Forest Week 2008. It will be jointly prepared by the MCPFE process and the European Forestry Commission of FAO and The Timber Committee of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Forest Week will provide a framework for a series of events and for various European actors to raise awareness on the inputs of forests and the forest sector to the protection of the environment and the development of economy and society in Europe.

Two reports were also published at the conference, one on sustainable forest management in Europe (State of Europe’s Forests 2007) and another on the implementation of the MCPFE commitments between 2003 and 2007. The first report shows that the forest area in Europe has increased by nearly 13 million ha between 1990 and 2005. This area is almost the size of Greece. The same report also reveals that forest management practices have changed considerably to promote the conservation of forest biological diversity and that the area of protected forests is now almost 5% of Europe’s forests. The increased conservation efforts have in part led to a decline in employment but still around 4.3 million people work in the European forest sector. Regarding forest genetic resources, the area managed for in situ and ex situ conservation of forest trees more than doubled between 1990 and 2005. Gene conservation and seed production efforts are being carried out for 135 tree species (including subspecies and hybrids) but the level of genetic conservation can be considered adequate only for a limited number of tree species in Europe. The second report concludes that good progress has been achieved in implementing the MCPFE commitments both at national and pan-European levels. The implementation report also highlights the work of EUFORGEN in implementing relevant commitments related to forest genetic resources.

In the closing ceremony of the conference, Poland passed the presidency of the MCPFE process to Norway which will establish a new Liaison Unit in early 2008. Germany and the Slovak Republic were invited to replace Austria in the General Coordinating Committee which facilitates and coordinates the MCPFE work. Other members of the Committee include Norway, Poland and Spain. The MCPFE reports are available at www.mcpfe.org . Further information on the conference can also be found at www.iisd.ca/ymb/mcpfe5 .