FAO at the EU Parliament for the High level conference on forests

fao-forest-2011The High level Conference on Forests organized on 6th and 7th of September 2011 in Brussels at the EU Parliament, brought together more than 250 participants, and was a major contribution to promote awareness and understanding of forests and forestry issues. The Assistant Director General of the Forestry Department, Eduardo Rojas-Briales, presenting the State of the World’s Forests 2011, emphasized the significant potential of forests and sustainable forestry management for the alleviation of poverty, the livelihood of over 1.6 billion people depending on forests. The Conference was the largest event organized in the EU at the occasion of the 2011 International year of forest.

Concluding the high level conference “European and Global Forests – Which Way to the Future?”,numerous experts, state representatives and EU Parliamentarians pointed out the urgent need to establish a coherent European and global policy approach to protect and preserve the multiple social, economical, and environmental benefits provided by forests. The participants emphasized the key role of sustainable forestry management addressing climate change, biodiversity, and promoting green growth. “We have to fight against a worrying situation in order to save the threatened forests of this planet” stated H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco, from which the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation address the worrying threats faced by our planet’s environment.

The State of the World’s Forests 2011 emphasize that Millions of forest-dependant people play a vital role in managing, conserving, and developing the world’s forests in a sustainable manner, but the outside world often underestimates their rights to use and benefit from local forest resources. The FAO report stresses that the forest industry forms an important part of a “greener” economy and wood products have environmental attributes that would appeal to people. Wood and wood products, as natural materials, are made from renewable resources that store carbon and have high potential for recycling. The FAO report also stresses that urgent action is needed to protect the values of forests that sustain local livelihoods in the face of climate change. Decisions taken in Cancun in December 2010 on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) should be aligned with broad forest governance reform and enable the participation of indigenous people and local communities. Their rights should be respected in national REDD+ activities and strategies. While REDD+ forest mitigation actions are attracting major attention and funding, the role of forests in climate change adaptation is crucial but often underestimated by governments.  The forests are important in contributing to the achievement of national adaptation strategies. Forestry measures can reduce the impacts of climate change on highly vulnerable ecosystems and sectors of society. Planting forests and trees for environmental protection and income could help the poor in arid countries to be less prone to droughts.  Examples of adaptation measures in developing countries include mangrove development and conservation, forest fire prevention and reforestation programs.