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!
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.
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.