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: