The European Forest Week, an initiative of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), was celebrated for the first time in 2008. Ever since, it is being organized every two years, providing a unique opportunity for participants to present the forest wealth of their country, to raise awareness on the importance of forests and to influence European policies. National and local events, competitions and exhibitions, lectures and presentations are held simultaneously in the participating countries. Past events included recreational tours in the nature of Austria, lectures on forests in Spain, film festivals for forests in the Czech Republic, working meetings on the contribution of forests to the prevention of floods in Ukraine and many more.
Key messages for 2017 European Forest Week
Europe’s forests – where biodiversity lives.
Forest policy in Europe has a strong focus on biodiversity; more than 30 million hectares of European forests are protected to conserve biodiversity and landscape. Over the last 15 years, the area of protected forests in Europe has increased annually by half a million hectares. More than 90 percent of European countries have specific objectives related to biodiversity.
Europe’s forests – for the climate!
Sustainably managed forests help to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, while providing products based on a carbon-neutral renewable resource. Forests cover more than a third of Europe’s land surface acting as a natural carbon sink as they grow. It is estimated that every year the European forest biomass sequesters an average of 719 million tonnes of CO2. This corresponds to about 9% of Europe’s annual net greenhouse gas emissions. Soil is the largest forest carbon sink, followed by the above-ground biomass, litter, below ground biomass and dead wood.
Europe’s forests – nature’s savings account
Like a savings account, the forest is growing – every year Europe gains almost 2 billion trees, the equivalent of about 900 million m3 of wood; a valuable natural resource with regaining interest as renewable long-live construction material and source of energy.