[METLA Tiedote]



Media release, 5 July 2002
- Tiedote suomeksi


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.

Various objectives of protection
Protected areas are usually located in state land or community owned land, and apart from the Nordic countries they are fairly small in size., The protected areas can be divided into three groups according to the management objectives: protection for biological diversity, protection for conservation of landscape or special natural features, and protection for protective purposes (e.g., erosion and avalanches).

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:

  • Dr Jari Parviainen, Metla, vice coordinator of the PROFOR project, tel. +358 13 251 4010 or
    +358 40 563 9252, e-mail jari.parviainen@metla.fi
  • Mari Pitkänen, Metla, tel.+358 13 251 5335 or +358 766 6094, e-mail mari.pitkanen@metla.fi
  • Dr Georg Frank, Federal Forest Research Centre/Austria, coordinator of the PROFOR project, tel. +358 40 563 9252 (5-7.7.), +43 1 87838 2208 ( 8.7. =>), e-mail georg.frank@fbva.bmlf.gv.at
Final Report of the COST E4 -project (pdf)

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