17 October 2008, Rome – Europe’s forests are growing at the rate of about 360 million cubic metres annually, yet only two-thirds of this growth is being exploited. Given that forests are essential to the global energy balance, the vital role of forests in combatting climate change are among the major issues to be debated at the first-ever European Forest Week, taking place at FAO Headquarters from 20 to 24 October 2008.
“Forests cover 44 percent of Europe’s land area and continue to expand. Collaboration across the forest and forest-related sectors is crucial if we are to take full advantage of the multiple resources forests offer”, said Jan Heino, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry.
The Rome meeting will involve representitives from 46 countries and is being jointly organized by the European Commission, FAO, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
In conjunction with these events, the European Economic and Social Committee will hold a conference in Brussels on the “Role of forests and the forest-based sector in meeting the EU’s climate commitments”.
Over 130 affiliated in-country events throughout Europe will highlight the value of Europe’s forests and what needs to be done to fully utilize their potential, many of them targeting youth audiences.
In bringing together individuals and organizations working for the sustainable management of forests, European Forest Week contributes to finding solutions for some of the most challenging issues facing forests and forestry today: climate change, energy and water.
Trees as carbon stores
Trees absorb and store during their growth carbon dioxide, thus contributing to climate change mitigation. Carbon is stored in the forest biomass, in the trunks, branches, foliage and roots of trees and in the soil. In a well managed forest, carbon storage never stops as new trees replace those that have been harvested. Even after harvest, wood products continue to store the carbon.
In the last 15 years, forest area in Europe has grown by 13 million hectares or an area equivalent to the size of Greece.
Source of energy
Wood is still widely used as a source of renewable energy. Producing wood in itself takes less energy and emits less CO2 than producing any other commonly used building material. Using more wood instead of concrete, plastic and steel helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information on the European Forest Week see www.europeanforestweek.org