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.

The conference will be held at the EU Committee of the Regions, reflecting the importance of support at regional and local levelThe conference will be held at the EU Committee of the Regions, reflecting the importance of support at regional and local level

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 for example will be the newly formed Beech Forest Network, seeking World Heritage status for large old growth forests in Central and East Europe.

There will also be focus on promoting the intrinsic and ecological benefits of ancient forests, and identifying and utilising their economic and social attributes for non-extractive ventures. These include tourism and ecosystem services, funding from which can benefit local communities and landholders without compromising conservation objectives.

An urgent situation: Old growth forest is being felled across Europe as timber prices riseAn urgent situation: Old growth forest is being felled across Europe as timber prices rise

Topics to be covered will include:

  • a practical consensus definition of old growth forest
  • addressing gaps in existing policy and legislative cover
  • sharing best practice in management and protection
  • improved incentives for private sector protection
  • promoting new measures to combat illegal logging
  • support for emerging protection initiatives eg in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine
  • an Early Warning System for rapid action when new threats arise

Wherever feasible, the strategy will seek improved use of existing instruments for protection, avoiding reinvention of the wheel and enabling faster impact from practical measures.

All queries in the first instance please to: Toby Aykroyd: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

See also: Wide welcome for Wild Europe’s Old Growth Forest Strategy