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Marek Belka “Europe moving towards sustainable forest management. The next challenge will be to develop a consensus on the role of wood in renewable energy supply”

Published: 13 November 2007


The ministers responsible for forestry of 38 countries met at the fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) from 5 to 7 November 2007 in Warsaw on the theme of Forests for Quality of Life. They adopted a Ministerial Declaration and two Resolutions, containing commitments on promotion of wood as renewable energy carrier and the role of forest in water protection in the context of climate change for implementation at a national level.

The Conference had before it the most complete and balanced assessment ever of the state of Europe’s forests, prepared by the MCPFE Liaison Unit with UNECE and FAO. The report addresses all criteria of sustainable forest management, provides relevant information for policymakers and points to potentially unsustainable situations in some indicators in a few countries. It concludes “Overall, are European forests sustainably managed? The answer is a qualified “yes” with caveats in all three areas of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental”.

The Executive Secretary of UNECE, Marek Belka, addressed the Conference. He pointed out the need to balance different positions and interests to find a sustainable solution, rather than imposing a “winner” in a contest of political strength. He continued “This approach is enabling the forest sector to move on from the sterile debates of the past to find practical and consensus based solutions. In this respect, I believe other sectors have much to learn from the forest sector. The next challenge will be to develop a rational and sustainable consensus on the role of wood in renewable energy supply, while respecting the other users of this unique material.”

Mr. Belka also discussed public perceptions and communication about the forest sector, saying “it is a sad fact that the public, indeed many decision makers, have many wrong perceptions of the status and trends of European forests. An authoritative and clear document like the Warsaw report can help dispel these misunderstandings.” He welcomed the fact that MCPFE will cooperate with UNECE, FAO, and the EU in the Pan-European Forest Week in October 2008, saying that this event will present an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the cooperation and dynamism of the region’s forest sector institutions.

Mr. Belka reaffirmed UNECE’s commitment to working with MCPFE, FAO and other organizations to promote sustainable forest management in the region.

Further information available from

Kit Prins,


UNECE/FAO Timber Section,

Palais des Nations, Geneva

Telephone +41(0)22 917 2874.

The summary of the Warsaw report can be downloaded from http://www.mcpfe.org/node/135 in English, French, Russian and Polish. More information about the Conference, including texts of the Declaration, resolutions and statements is available at http://www.mcpfe.org and at http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/mcpfe5/5nov.html (for pictures and summaries of discussions).

Ref: ECE/TIM/07/P07

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