Go-ahead for Conference on old growth forest strategy
A conference for a strategy to protect old growth forests in Europe will be held on 13-14th September 2017 at the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels, with kind support from the European Commission.
These forests occupy a very small proportion of total tree cover, but are of unique ecological value and highly vulnerable to growing threats.
Organised by Wild Europe, the Conference will bring together participants from EU and non EU countries. They will include forest ecology specialists, representatives from the European Commission, Council of Europe, UNESCO, national and local governments together with NGOs, landowners, foresters and supporting eco enterprise interests.
Strong emphasis will be placed on achieving consensus among the various parties.
A conference for practical action
The Conference will be based around a protection strategy collated by Wild Europe over four years of consultation.
Rising levels of threat – mainly driven by increases in timber prices – have lead to a suggestion from the EC for this now be fully implemented.
The primary aim of the Conference is to agree practical actions that address all aspects of an agenda to protect and restore ancient forests.
Priority will be given to forest areas under most imminent threat. Among those attending will be the newly formed Beech Forest Network, which has just secured inscription into World Heritage status for large old growth forests in twelve countries!
'Re-wilding’ – a wind of change gathers strength in Western Europe
Whilst wilderness is mainly associated with Northern and Eastern Europe, where the prime objective is protection of remaining great areas of natural ecology, this is increasingly complemented by re-wilding of habitats and reintroduction of species in Western Europe.
A growing number of countries are now adopting national strategies for restoration of large-scale natural ecosystems, amid increased awareness of their benefit to conservation objectives and society in general.
Austria has led the fray. In December 2014 it set a 2% target in its 2020+ National Biodiversity Strategy for wilderness and areas with wilderness characteristics. The Wild Europe definition forms the basis for wilderness in the Austrian strategy for National Parks, two of which will have core areas designated to Wild Europe criteria in 2015/16.
France is also moving ahead. A specialist group has been formed within IUCN (from 2012) to assess potential for a wilderness strategy. Also based around the Wild Europe definition, this brings together a range of experts.
More recently, but gaining momentum rapidly, Rewilding Britain was established in December 2014 from a coalition of NGOs, with Wild Europe as a trustee.
Wood energy schemes “a disaster” for climate change
A study published in London on 23rd February 2017 by the well respected Royal Institute of International Affairs warns that most schemes to generate “low carbon electricity” from wood burning are actually doing the opposite, with carbon emissions from wood pellets higher than coal and considerably higher than gas.
Calculations of net carbon savings have not been counting emissions from the actual wood burning, merely assuming that these are countered by the sequestration impact of new plantings – which effectively leaves a large gap.
The Study calls for an urgent review of EU biomass subsidies. This comes in the wake of an investigation by Birdlife International which found significant logging in protected areas of Europe to supply renewable energy installations.
FZS advertising new wilderness role
Our partner Frankfurt Zoological Society has announced a new advocacy role, mainly to address threats to wilderness areas including illegal logging and large infrastructure projects.
An Advocacy and Casework Officer is being hired for the Society’s site based projects in Carpathians, Polesia region and Bialowieza Forest in Poland and Belarus.
At a time of growing challenges, with land and timber prices rising as Europe comes out of recession, this is an important role involving some of the largest remaining areas of old growth forest and intact wilderness.
Application deadline is 11th August.
Wide welcome for Wild Europe’s old growth forest protection strategy
Rising timber demand, fragmentation from new transport routes and general development pose threats which are intensifying as the recession ends.
Yet all too often these are tackled piecemeal by conservationists at local level where it is difficult to muster support. Above all, there is insufficient awareness of the value of this habitat.
Wild Europe has assembled a strategy to address these issues. It covers five key areas: policy framework, protective action, management practice, long-term opportunities and funding.
Previous Top Stories
Wild Europe programme 2017/18
Despite the uncertainties created by Brexit, 2016/17 saw further solid progress by Wild Europe.
A key focus has been the urgent need to develop a coordinated protection strategy for remaining ancient, or old growth, forests; this iconic habitat for the wilderness agenda is coming under growing threat as Europe emerges from recession, timber prices rise and illegal logging proliferates.
We have continued our support for developing model areas and national level programmes for wildlands and wilderness, alongside a range of projects designed to promote their value.
Objectives for 2017/18 have now been published. For a strategic outline of the previous year see Achievements & Objectives in 2016/18 More detailed reports are available on request.
CEEweb joins Wild Europe
We warmly welcome our latest new member to the Wild Europe partnership.
CEEweb is a network of nature conservation organizations from Central and East Europe, working together to protect the natural heritage of the region.
Founded in 1994, the network aims to influence policies for enhancement of biodiversity, to promote enforcement of conventions for conservation, and to further the principles of sustainable development.
Some of the largest remaining areas of relatively intact natural ecosystem are located within CEEweb’s geographical remit, and we look forward to liaising with their many experts.