Massive IUCN support for strict forest protection

By a landslide 674 votes, with only 1 against, IUCN members supported Resolution 127, calling 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, at IUCN’s Marseille Congress in September 2021, 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. 

This sends a clear message for the EU Forest Strategy, now in its last stages of review, by MEPs and Council of Ministers, to the EU Biodiversity Strategy and to the UNESCO World Heritage network.

Noting the value of such forests in species richness and provision of high quality ecosystem services to address climate change, the Motion emphasised their fragility and the significant lack of protection against a growing array of threats. 

Protection and expansion

The Motion also looked beyond protection of existing forest remnants, calling for their consolidation, expansion and linkage through a comprehensive restoration programme.It urged rapid completion of an exercise to identify and map the forests, along with establishment of a legal framework, and creation of an early warning system for impending threats. Focus must be on protection in perpetuity – given the very long timescales required for full ecosystem establishment.