Hotspots of biodiversity: the role of sustainable forest management in Europe

A virtual event co-hosted by EUSTAFOR and CEPF provided an insight into the role of sustainable forest management practices in environmental conservation, emphasising how these practices can support the EU's biodiversity and climate objectives.


How to prevent the loss of biodiversity remains one of the hot policy issues in the EU and globally. Healthy and green livelihoods are also among society’s main expectations. European forests have a crucial role to play in answering these concerns and demands.

Taking a step forward, the European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) and the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) co-organised the virtual conference titled “European Forests: Hotspots of Biodiversity” on 9 September 2020. Co-hosted by MEPs Jessica Polfjärd and Adam Jarubas of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, the conference offered insights into the role of sustainable forest management practices in environmental conservation and how these practices can support the EU in meeting its long-term biodiversity and climate objectives.

The event, which is listed as Partner Event of the EU Green Week 2020, gathered high-level speakers, ranging from EU officials to forest owners and managers and researchers, together with approximately 250 participants from all corners of the forest-based sector and beyond.

Opening the conference, MEP Jarubas stated that, “We need healthy and resilient forest ecosystems to reach the goals of the European Green Deal. Adequate financing is needed to make sustainable forest management economically sound and to ensure that environmental and socio-cultural benefits continue to be provided to the society at large. The future European legal framework must take into account the opinions of those who will ultimately be responsible for its implementation”. 

Reinhardt Neft, CEO of the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise and President of EUSTAFOR, stressed that, “Management practices applied in European state forestry clearly show that the ecological functions of forest ecosystems and biodiversity can be maintained in managed forests along with all other functions”.

During two panel discussions, the speakers discussed their views and provided practical examples concerning the way in which daily forest management practices currently support forest biodiversity. Future opportunities and actions to ensure that European forests remain hotspots of biodiversity were also explored. The wide range of forest types which can be found throughout the different regions of Europe, makes it necessary to include a variety of approaches and measures, at both EU and national levels, when planning Europe’s common effort to maintain and enhance forest biodiversity.

Photo: Extract from the virtual session with keynote speaker Jo O’Hara (Member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters) and Antonio Paula Soares (CEPF)

In her closing remarks, MEP Polfjärd emphasised that, “In times when it is of great importance that we reach our climate goals, we cannot afford not to utilise forests and the climate benefits that sustainable forest management entails, but this has to be combined with work that also aims to maintain forest biodiversity”.

Sven-Erik Hammar, Board Member of CEPF, closed the event by saying, “Sustainable forest management is the ABC of biodiversity conservation. Forest owners are custodians of forests’ future and their focus is to maintain productive, healthy and vital ecosystems in their forests”.

European forest owners and managers are looking forward to further collaboration and synergies with EU policymakers and partners as well as contributing to the next policy developments related to forests and biodiversity.

For further information you can find the event’s press release, video recording and other materials available here.

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The European State Forest Association (EUSTAFOR) represents state forest companies, enterprises and agencies that have sustainable forest management and sustainable wood production as major concerns. The Association currently has 39 members in 27 European countries.