European Forest Week
European Forest Week 2008: Main Messages
Europe’s forests enrich our lives and help save the planet
· They cover 44 percent of Europe’s land area and continue to expand.
· They combat climate change by continuously absorbing and storing harmful greenhouse gases.
· In our changing climate wood, our oldest renewable source of material and energy, is still the smart choice in the 21st century.
· The European Forest Week is about increasing understanding of the importance of our forests and the value of using them.
The forest area in Europe grew by 13 million hectares in the last 15 years. That’s an area roughly equivalent to the size of Greece – or more than a million football fields every year.
Sustainably managed forests enrich our lives and the environment in many ways. They stabilize our soils, provide habitat for our wildlife, clean our air and water, lock up greenhouse gases, create income and jobs and provide healthy places for rest and play. Sustainable forest management means using the forest without diminishing it. So at the same time, Europe’s forests are producing an increasing amount of renewable, reliable raw material for building, furniture, energy, paper and countless other everyday uses. The amount of wood in Europe’s forests is growing by around 360 million cubic metres per year. Only two-thirds of this increase is harvested at present.
European forests combat climate change
Through photosynthesis, trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The carbon is stored in the forest biomass – in the trunks, branches, foliages and roots, and in the soil. In a sustainably managed forest, carbon storage never stops, as new trees replace harvested ones. Even after the trees are harvested, wood products continue to store the carbon.
Wood is also a low-carbon-emission source of energy – better for the planet than using dwindling fossil fuels.
Wood is the smart choice
Wood is a natural, renewable resource. We need to use more of it for energy and in place of less environmentally friendly materials. Producing wood takes less energy and emits less CO2 than producing any other commonly used building material – and the wood stores carbon as long as the building stands. Using more wood instead of concrete, plastic and steel could mean a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing 1 cubic metre of concrete with the same volume of timber can save around 1 tonne of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. That’s about the amount of CO2 that a medium-sized car gives off when it is driven 3 000 kilometres. Furthermore, wood and wood products are easy to reuse and recycle.
Working together for European Forests
The European Forest Week was declared by the ministers responsible for forests of 46 European countries. It is jointly prepared by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. A series of events in countries throughout Europe will highlight what needs to be done to fully utilize the potential of Europe’s forests in mitigating climate change, providing wood and renewable energy, securing the supply of fresh water and protecting our environment.