Massive IUCN support for strict forest protection

By a landslide 674 votes, with only 1 against, IUCN members called for strict protection of primary/old growth forest in Europe. 

Furthermore this protection is based on prohibition of timber extraction – and was backed by 93 Category A members, which includes governments. 

The vote was in response to Motion 125, “Strengthening the protection of primary and old-growth forests in Europe and facilitating their restoration”. The Motion was coordinated by Daniel Vallauri of WWF France and based on Wild Europe’s Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy (2018) and sequel. 

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Perfect storm for a forest bioenergy crisis – and how to address it

Commercial bioenergy, a booming industry. Dogwood Alliance

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that forest bioenergy worsens climate change, with higher emissions than any other fuel including gas or coal, elements within the EC currently considering reform of RED II continue to give it their strong support.

There are however crucial opportunities, currently underexploited, for addressing this issue.

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International conference for primary/old growth forest

A summit to catalyse joint action for the world’s remaining natural forests was co-hosted in webinars on 25/26th March by Wild Heritage and Wild Europe. 

This represented the European element in a regional series under the auspices of the IntAct initiative, involving participation by Rebecka le Moine MP (Sweden), Ville Niinisto MEP (Finland) Michal Wiezik MEP (Slovakia) and others from the European parliament, with a range of international speakers and NGO expertise.

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EU Parliament critical of Svydovets resort plan

Natural landscape of the Svydovets region

An EP Resolution on implementation of its annual EUAA Report on Ukraine, published 11th February 2021, criticises planned development of this mega ski and recreation complex in the Zakarpattia oblast of the Ukrainian Carpathians, forecast to host 28,000 visitors per day.

The Resolution calls on the Ukrainian government to prevent widespread illegal logging – particularly of primeval forests – which it cites as the main cause of flooding in the region. It further calls on the EU to take steps help prevent such logging “in connection with the unlawful Svydovets ski resort project”.

Establishment of more protected areas in the country is also requested

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Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Action Plan for a wilder Europe

Wild Europe’s Action Plan for large natural ecosystem areas – in EU and non EU countries – was launched on 11th January.

Described as ambitious but thoroughly practical, the Plan is strongly supportive of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and many of its key targets run in parallel:

Such targets are underpinned by recognition that adequate compensation must be paid to private landholders, alongside full activation of the Payment for Ecosystem Services agenda and significant support for carbon rich ecosystems from the Climate Fund. It is important to build common ground with inter-sector consensus to achieve this.

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Forest and Restoration consultations

The EU planning process is in full spate.

A Forest Strategy not a Forestry Strategy

In December 2020 Wild Europe contributed to two consultations: on EU Forest Strategy and Restoration Targets. 

At stake in determination of policy for the next decade are our fast-disappearing ecosystems and their wildlife. 

The State of Nature in the EU Report published in October by the Environment Agency provides a grim backdrop: species in freefall decline, majority of habitats in unfavourable condition, climate change accelerating and budgets pressurised by COVID.

The potential offered by rewilding, with its focus on non-intervention and cost-effective nature based solutions, has never been more important.

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Slovakian wilderness protection targets re-affirmed

President highlights targets at UN Summit

Major targets for non-intervention in national parks in the 2019 Greener Slovakia strategy were highlighted in a speech by President Caputova on 30th September at the UN Biodiversity Summit.

50% of NP area as non-intervention will be achieved by 2025.

75% will be achieved by 2030.

This clear re-affirmation should animate action to implement these protection targets in Slovakia itself, and be a useful catalyst for European governments generally. Another objective should, wherever possible, be attainment of IUCN Category I: complete non-intervention status.

President Caputova’s speech follows the unveiling earlier this year of a series of measures to strengthen environmental protection.

‘Model’ wilderness area in Alps based on Wild Europe definition

Gateway to the Sulzbachtäler/Hohe Tauern Wilderness © Josef Schrank

Author: Bernhard Kohler, WWF Austria

A wilderness area covering 6,700 hectares has been unveiled in the North West of Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria, following formal designation in 2019.

This is based on criteria from the Wild Europe definition and comes under the aegis of the Salzburg municipality.

The wilderness area has great promise as a model for the restoration strategy to implement targets in the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy – echoing Wild Europe’s own objectives of strict protection for at least 10% of EU and non-EU terrestrial areas.

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Definition of old growth / primary forest produced 

Forest
Sometimes hard to define. Even harder to protect.

A draft definition structure has now been produced to support objectives in the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy for protection and restoration of natural forest.

Applicable throughout Europe, this definition was initiated at the 2017 Brussels conference involving input from conservation and forestry interests among others.

It covers an overview of primary forest together with its constituent elements of old growth and virgin forest – the latter a narrower interpretation used mainly in Romania. 

Your feedback is welcome please:

  • Do you have any comments on the definition?
  • How readily could it be applied in your country?
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