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Pan European talks on sustainable use of forests about to start

The EU-27 and 19 other European countries are preparing to launch intergovernmental talks that are expected to result in a legally-binding agreement on sustainable use of forests in 2013. In parallel, the European Commission is kicking off talks to revamp its forest policy. An agreement to open negotiations is expected to be reached by the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, which will take place in Oslo, Norway, from 14th - 16th June.

Draft ministerial decision and other documents for the June conference were adopted last week at an expert level meeting of representatives of the 'Forest Europe' countries and the European Union, reports EurActiv.

During the June meeting, ministers responsible for forests will decide whether to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee with a mandate to develop a holistic, legally-binding framework agreement on forests in Europe (see October 2010 non-paper).

The agreement concerns sustainable management and use of forests, and focuses on issues ranging from national forest programmes to biodiversity protection and making European forests contribute to a green economy, primarily by putting a value on forest ecosystem services.

The talks are expected to last for two years. In parallel, a specific work programme will develop policies for sustainable forest management and facilitate implementation of commitments.

According to EurActiv, the European Commission will take part in the discussions but will not represent the EU-27, which will be represented by their national ministers in charge of forests. The Commission has expressed willingness to lead the negotiations on behalf of the EU-27, but member states' views on the matter diverge.

The June conference will also see the launch of a report on the state of Europe's forests, preliminary findings of which were presented at last week's expert meeting.

www.euractive.com

8th April 2011




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