in private forests
As a result of the privatization process which has involved Central and Eastern European countries since 1990, forest ownership patterns have changed. In the ten European Union Accession countries in Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), more than 20 percent of the forests are privately owned, and the number of private forest owners is approaching 3 million. In Poland, 17.1 percent of forests are privately owned at present, but the proportion is likely to increase through planned afforestation programmes. Although the share of private forest varies considerably according to the country, it is evident that private forests and private forest owners cannot be disregarded in forest biodiversity conservation in Central and Eastern Europe.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Office for Central Europe is involved in supporting nature conservation in private forests at both the regional and national levels.
A consultative process conducted by IUCN in December 2000 identified lack of political will, lack of financial resources, insufficient extension support to private forest owners, lack of information and absence of participation of private forest owners in international processes as some of the main shortcomings related to forest and nature conservation in private forests in Central and Eastern Europe. Following the recommendations of national experts, IUCN is now developing new activities to support the integration of nature conservation issues in effective extension systems and in afforestation programmes, focusing on private forest owners.
In Poland, IUCN, in partnership with Betra Resources Ireland, is implementing the project "Promoting the environmental protection and sustainable development of Poland's forests". The project focuses on the Malopolska Region (which is representative of Polish forestry in general) but its activities will subsequently be replicated throughout Poland. One of its overall long-term objectives is to ensure the protection of nature and biodiversity in Polish forests, through means such as the promotion of forest owner associations and providing assistance in the elaboration of comprehensive extension services for private forest owners.
For further information refer to: T. Marghescu, ed. 2001. Nature conservation in private forests of selected CEE countries. Brussels, Belgium, European Regional Office of IUCN (www.iucn-ero.nl/projects/forestry.htm); or consult IUCN's Web sites: www.iucn.org and www.iucn-ero.nl; or e-mail IUCN at firstname.lastname@example.org