Forest: LIFEnews features 2011

In response to the urgent need to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests, the UN has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests – the year will highlight the important work being carried out globally to promote the sustainable management of the world’s forests. Under the slogan “forests for people”, the UN is showcasing stories and initiatives on its website.
Meeting the EU's objective of limiting climate change to 2°C above pre-industrial levels will not be achieved without significant action to combat deforestation.
Three percent of the earth's forest cover was lost between 1990 and 2005 and the rate of deforestation has not decreased significantly in recent years. As a result, the EU is calling for a halt in global forest cover loss by 2030 at the latest and a reduction in gross tropical deforestation by at least 50% by 2020 from current levels
A UN resolution on the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests was adopted by the General Assembly in December 2006. It emphasised the “need for sustainable management of all types of forests, including fragile forest ecosystems” and recognised the significant role that sustainable forest management can play in reducing poverty and achieving internationally agreed development goals.

The EU strategy on forests is in line with this resolution in its emphasis of forests’ contribution to Lisbon objectives concerning economic growth and competitiveness and to the Gothenburg objectives concerning the conservation of natural resources. While each Member State is responsible for its own forestry policy, the EU can aid the implementation of forest management through “common policies based on subsidiarity and shared responsibility”. According to the Commission: “Sustainable forest management is therefore based on co-ordinating the forest policies of the Member States and Community policies and initiatives.”
Through its LIFE programme, the EU is supporting initiatives to monitor the health of forests, prevent forest fires and demonstrate co-ordinated ways of combating deforestation. The following projects are good examples of how the EU is using such initiatives to help shape a workable and effective strategy for forests:
  • LIFE 07 ENV/E/000824, the ongoing LIFE+BOSCOS project, is contributing towards sustainable management by mitigating the negative impacts of climate change on Mediterranean forest in Menorca, through the drawing up of management plans and guidelines.
  • LIFE09 ENV/IT/000078, an Italian multi-purpose ongoing project (ManFor C.BD.) is implementing forest management plans to evaluate their impact on carbon cycling, biodiversity and the economy.
  • LIFE09 ENV/FI/000571, the ‘Climforisk’ project is analysing the impact of climate change induced drought effects on forest growth and vulnerability. The project aims to develop a system that predicts changes to forests as a result of climate change.  
  • LIFE09 NAT/BG/000229, the ‘Black Sea Oak Habitats’ is conserving and restoring Black Sea oak habitats through reforestation measures and management planning.      
  • LIFE07 INF/E/000852, the Galician ‘Changing the change’ project, is helping farmers adopt more sustainable farming and forestry practices.
  • LIFE05 NAT/E/000067 – The Aiako Harria SPA is home to two habitats of Community importance: the Atlantic acidophilus beech forests and the Galaico-Portuguese oak woods. This Spanish project is helping to conserve this area through restoration measures.
  • LIFE04 NAT/RO/000225, restored 25 ha of black pine (Pinus nigra banatica) that had been destroyed by fire. The Romanian project also identified threats to the continued survival of the forest and introduced a management plan as well as generating enthusiasm for nature conservation among local young people.

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