Scientific Community and Youth Group Statement, 2015

Scientific Community and Youth Group Statement: EFI, IUFRO, Bioversity International and IFSA 

FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference, Wednesday 21 October delivered by EFI Director Marc Palahí.

The European Forest Institute (EFI), the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), Bioversity International and the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) would like to acknowledge the important achievements made by the Forest Europe Process regarding Sustainable Forest Management in the past 25 years. The resolutions, decisions and declarations adopted by the ministers responsible for forests in Europe reflect the general agreement on common targets and goals to be achieved and send a coherent message to decision makers and stakeholder across various sectors and policy areas at a time when the forest policy agenda is highly fragmented.

It is further important to highlight the set of policy instruments developed during the process, including a pan-European approach to National Forest Programmes, a set of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (SFM), as well as several guidelines for its implementation. The scientific community has played an important role in informing the deliberations on these policy instruments.  

Overall, the output of the Forest Europe process, as mentioned today by many delegates, can be considered significant. However, the real impact relates to the actual implementation of the commitments made and instruments adopted. While we welcome the efforts made to date to assess the achievements of the FOREST EUROPE process, we share the view that the impact of its decisions requires as well an independent scientific assessment.

As decisions will be taken about the future of this process, we also propose the establishment of a stronger and more systematic link between science, policy and practice. We would like to recall that the FOREST EUROPE process started as a science-based policy process 25 years ago in Strasbourg and has since developed into a main forest policy process in the pan-European region.

The role of science and education becomes now more important than ever. In this respect, ambitious commitments to forest research and education are needed to support forest-related policy making now and in the future. Special emphasis needs to be placed in support of the emerging generation of decision-makers and scientists who will have to deal with an increasingly challenging world in the future.

In the future, we believe that whatever agreement will be reached concerning an LBA, FOREST EUROPE has to provide strong leadership and vision based on ambitious partnerships across countries, disciplines, policy areas and sectors. Developing such vision should build on an improved understanding of sustainable and multifunctional forest management in addressing key societal challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss but also in realising the opportunities related to building Europe’s Green Bioeconomy.