A landmark for conservation

As Slovakia’s President opens the conference, EC Director General calls for stringent new protection – and restoration across Europe

Participants were honoured by a warm welcome from Her Excellency President Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia, who provided patronage for Wild Europe’s wilderness and old growth forest conference on 20th and 21st November.

Herself a winner of the coveted Goldman Prize for environmental achievement, President Caputova has an understanding of conservation issues rare among national leaders.

President Caputova opens the conference (Photo: Stefan Voicu)
Daniel Calleja calls for scaled protection and restoration (European Commission)

The President’s support was backed by a strong speech from the Director General of DG Environment at the European Commission – stressing the important role of old growth forests and wilderness in mitigating climate change and addressing the extinction crisis. 

In his message to the conference, Daniel Calleja called for reinforced protection and ecological restoration of wilderness across Europe, citing “its range of vital services – carbon storage, water table stability …”. 

More stringent protection was also needed to increase the share of old growth forest – which he said had undergone “a drastic reduction in surface area”.

Strong support from UNESCO 

Isabele Anatole-Gabriel of UNESCO (UNESCO)

Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, Head of the Europe and North America Department for UNESCO World Heritage, also sent a strong message of support. Citing the value of old growth forest, she explained the twelve-country beech forest protection initiative. 

Aiming to designate some of the last significant remaining areas of this precious biome as World Heritage sites, this endeavour is now nearing completion: an iconic example for the rest of Europe of large-scale conservation achievement and inter-country cooperation.

Read more: Conference presentations

Read more: Conference programme 

Read previous story: President of Slovakia to participate at Wild Europe conference

Information on the rest of the conference, including presentations, to follow shortly.