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European Conference on the Protection of Forests Develops Valsaín Declaration

7 April 2010: The Spanish presidency of the EU hosted a Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe from 6-7 April 2010, in Valsaín (Segovia), Spain, to discuss the European Commission's “Green Paper on Forest Protection and Information” released in March 2010.

At the conference, Spain's Minister of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, Elena Espinosa, underscored the importance of calculating the impact of climate change on different kinds of European woods and forests, as well as understanding the role that these ecosystems play in mitigating climate change.

In the resulting Valsaín Declaration, participants acknowledged that forest ecosystems and forest products play a role in capturing carbon in the long term, and that European forest systems are threatened by natural and human agents whose destructive capacity is compounded by climate change. Participants also noted that climate change can alter the dynamic nature and adaptation of forest ecosystems, depending on the different types of European ecosystems, and that it can increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme phenomena, such as storms and fires.

They further stressed the heterogeneity of the problems affecting European forests, the need to increase and diversify efforts, and the desire not to focus only on adapting to climate change but on all challenges present in European forest areas. Participants thus supported forest protection as part of sustainable forest management, the ecosystem approach, and enhanced cooperation at the EU level. They also identified priority action, including to: foster the continuous assessment and monitoring of the state, dynamics and evolution of European forests, based on Pan-European criteria and indicators; and streamline the collection at European level of information on forestry. The Declaration will be submitted to the Council of Ministers of the Environment in June 2010. [The Declaration] [Press Release 7 April] [Press Release 6 April]