The 7th Forest Europe Ministerial Conference drew to a close on October 21 having reached agreement on two Ministerial resolutions for the sector and a decision the future for Forest Europe. Held in Madrid, the 2-day meeting was attended by representatives from 38 countries from the pan-European region, plus the EU, as signatories, as well as a high number of stakeholder organisations and UN bodies, with more than 200 delegates altogether. The signatories committed to strengthen the social function of forests and their contribution to green jobs, to protect forests against climate change, and to work together at the regional level to address the new challenges and opportunities.
In his opening speech to the conference, DG AGRI Director General Jerzy Plewa congratulated Forest Europe on its work on the principles of sustainable forest management and putting them into practice. He then underlined that "Forestry is one of the main sectors that keep our rural areas still vibrant and sustainable, and forests have an essential element of Europe's nature and wildlife, playing a major role in the protection of biodiversity and in the provision of many ecosystem services. Also its contribution to green jobs especially in rural areas should be recognised and further promoted. The latest available information from the Rural Development programmes in the 28 EU Member States shows that 7.2 billion EURO of public expenditure will be dedicated to forestry measures in the period 2014-2020. It is clear that the contribution from the forest sector to green jobs could be substantial."
Together with European Investment bank (EIB), the European Commission's DG AGRI is working on a new Financial Instrument specific for forestry that can offer good opportunities and facilitate investments in forestry. Following the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration at the end of the conference Mr Plewa added; "I believe that it is more important than ever for Europe to affirm its positions and develop an ambitious overall and common approach for the sustainable management of forests.”
To coincide with the Conference, Forest Europe published its latest report on the state of Europe's forests, which shows that there are not only more forests, but also that they are being better managed.