Ministers Agree to Negotiate Legally Binding Agreement on Europe’s Forests

16 June 2011: During the FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference, held in Oslo, Norway from 14-16 June 2011, ministers adopted a Mandate for Negotiating a Legally Binding Agreement (LBA) on Forests in Europe. Ministers also adopted a decision outlining a shared vision, goals and targets for 2020 for European forests.

Many delegates considered the adoption of these documents to be an historic moment for European forests, one that will shape forest policy over the next decade. The negotiations of the LBA are expected to begin later in 2011 and to conclude by mid-2013. The 2020 targets adopted in the Ministerial Decision include: developing national forest programmes and strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation in all countries; halving the rate of forest biodiversity loss; and taking effective measures to eliminate illegal logging.

The Conference was attended by ministers responsible for forests and high-level representatives of 43 European countries and the European Community, as well as representatives of 29 observer organizations and six observer organizations. It provided an opportunity to discuss and take decisions on the future of the protection and sustainable management of forests in Europe. Delegates heard statements from signatory and observer countries on national forest management activities, and from several intergovernmental organizations. Many delegates addressed the role of forests in a green economy and mobilization of forest resources for bioenergy.

Other highlights of the conference included the launch of the report “State of European Forests 2011” and a signing ceremony for the Ministerial Mandate and Decision.

FOREST EUROPE, officially the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, is a high-level political initiative working towards the protection and sustainable management of forests throughout the region. Forty-six European countries and the EU, cooperating with a range of international organizations, are involved in this initiative. [FOREST EUROPE Website] [Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020] [Oslo Ministerial Mandate for Negotiating a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe] [Climate Change Policy & Practice Story on the report “State of European Forests 2011”] [IISD RS Coverage of FOREST EUROPE]