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Rovaniemi, Lapland’s capital, nominated “Official city of the 2013 European Forest Week”

Published: 04 November 2013

The Finnish capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi, “home of Santa Claus”, was nominated “official city of the 2013 European Forest Week” on 4 November. It was selected by the 15 partners who launched the European Forest Week earlier this year, as it will also be hosting Metsä2013 – the joint session of the UNECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry and the FAO European Forestry Commission from 9 to 13 December.

The city’s Mayor, Mr. Esko Lotvonen, opened the event and unveiled some of the celebrations that will be taking place next month. “Forests are of great importance to Lapland and this is why Rovaniemi is proud to be in the lead of this year’s celebrations in Europe.” He reminded that “the forest industry accounts for 50% of the region's industrial production”.

The event was honoured even by Santa Claus, who attended to join the cause of the 2013 European Forest Week. Santa also reminded of the importance of forests for livelihoods in Europe. He gave his full support to the United Nations in carrying on  work to keep forests healthy and manage them sustainably.

To mark the event, a commemorative plaque was given to the Mayor by Ms. Paola Deda of UNECE and Mr. Dominique Reeb, FAO, on behalf of the 15 European Forest Week partners. The representative of International Forestry Students’ Association, Mr. Vesa Miettunen also joined the event.

Mr. Heikki Granholm, Chair of the Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry and Co-Chair of Metsä2013, also attended the event. “The Week will provide European countries with a unique opportunity for communication and outreach to increase the visibility of the forest sector and its contribution to a sustainable economy”, he said and encouraged wide participation and involvement of all sectors in Europe in the celebrations.  

After the success of the first European Forest Week, held in Italy in 2008 and celebrated throughout Europe, this is the second celebration of Europe’s forests. The goal is to promote sustainable forest management and raise awareness of how the forest sector contributes to a green economy.

This year the theme is “The role of forests and forest products in a Green Economy”. The forest sector contributes to the emerging green economy by improving human wellbeing and social equality, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

Sustainably managed forests play a big role in the carbon cycle and provide essential environmental and social values and services beyond their contribution as a source of wood. These include biodiversity conservation, protection against erosion, watershed protection, and employment in often fragile rural areas.

The forest sector in Europe is already contributing to a green economy and could do even more by using all its resources wisely and economically, minimizing waste, recovering, reusing and recycling as much as possible.

Sustainably managed forests also support our economies.  For instance, the value of marketed roundwood in Europe reached €21.1 billion in 2010, and marketed non-wood goods amounted to €2.7 billion. In total the forest sector, including forest management, the wood industry, and the pulp and paper industry, account for about 1% of gross domestic product in Europe, and 0.8% in the Russian Federation.

Europe employs around 4 million people throughout the forestry sector, including in the wood, pulp and paper processing industries. And in Finland, the forest sector gives work to 80,000 people, and covers about 20% of the country’s exports.

The European Forest Week will be celebrated in Rovaniemi and throughout Europe. National stakeholders will be organizing events to address forest issues of national relevance.

Activities could include: celebrations of forests at local and national level; specific events by private or public organizations; competitions, exhibits, fairs, school activities; videos and publications. There are still opportunities to organize events throughout Europe, as well as to register and share them on the web-based platform dedicated to the European Forest Week.

For more information about the European Forest Week please click here or contact Nina Peeva, Communication Officer, UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, at nina.peeva@unece.org.


Note to editors

The 15 organizations who launched the European Forest Week include:

Confederation of European Private Forest Owners (CEPF), Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), European Forest Institute (EFI), European Network of Forest Entrepreneurs (ENFE), European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), FOREST EUROPE, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Geneva Environment Network (GEN), International Forestry Students' Association (IFSA), International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

In Rovaniemi, the 2013 European Forest Week will be celebrated through a series of events organized by governmental and non-governmental agencies, academia and the private sector.

Some of the organizations holding events are: Swedish Forest Agency; Forestry Commission of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; European Forest Institute; Finnish Forest Research Institute; International Union of Forest Research Organization, the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries and the International Forestry Students Association.

For participants, the host country and different partners in Rovaniemi will organize diverse social and cultural events, including reindeer herding, snow games and traditional ice fishing in arctic conditions. Expositions, receptions, and field trips, including a winter safari, will also be organized during the week.

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