Media release, 5 July 2002
Comparison of protected forest areas in Europe to be improved
Currently it is difficult to compare forest protection situations between European countries. There are more than 90 conservation categories in use, and in addition, differences in the concept of the term forest, different histories of forest use, different forest management principles, as well as variation in stratification and size of forest areas further complicate comparisons. A new EU COST -project PROFOR (COST E27: Protected Forest Areas in Europe - Analysis and Harmonisation) aims to simplify forest conservation comparisons in Europe. In the kick-off meeting of the project in Joensuu, Finland, 5-6 July 2002, a total of 40 experts from the 18 participating countries will decide upon the detailed aims and implementation of this co-operative project.
Firstly, the PROFOR-project will collect information on forest protection in the participating countries. Simultaneously, the differences in the conservation classifications and terminology applied will be discussed, and possibilities for harmonizing and improving the classifications identified. The current classifications, as well as the six-category IUCN-classification for protected areas (land, water, landscape and cultural heritage) will be taken into account. Information on forest protection is needed in international forest and environmental policy and decision-making. For example, the comparisons on forest protection for the European Ministerial Conference on Forests, 2003, will be based on the results of PROFOR.
The PROFOR-project continues the work done in the COST E4 -project on
strictly protected forest areas (1996-2000), which was the first scientific
comparison of forest protection across Europe. The strictly protected
areas are protected by law, and there is no human interference in their
development. There are app. 3 million hectares of strictly protected forest
areas in Europe (excluding Russia), corresponding to 1.6% of the forest
area. In Finland, 3.6% of productive forest land is strictly protected.
Conservation of the biological diversity of forests can not be secured with a network of protected areas alone. The ecological requirements of different species should also be taken into account in forest management and silviculture. 85-90% of the forest area in Europe is used for economic, recreational and other multiple use purposes, and forest management plays a major role in the conservation of biodiversity. Concepts of forest conservation are currently going through a significant change: European policies seem to increasingly emphasize voluntary protection of private forests, and concentrate on the areas considered most valuable for nature.
For more information, please contact:
The Finnish Forest Research Institute - Metla http://www.metla.fi/ajankohtaista/index-en.html
Metla/Communications Unioninkatu 40 A, FIN-00170 HELSINKI
tel. +358 9 857 05 260, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org