On 5 October 2021, forest ministers from five highly- forested EU countries – Finland, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia and Austria – met at an informal meeting in Vienna. The initiative to this meeting came from Austria. The Slovenian Presidency was also represented. After the meeting, the ministers published a joint statement on the promotion of forest cooperation, which France also supports.
The topics discussed by the ministers included the following:
The definition of sustainable forest management should continue to be based on what has been outlined in the FOREST EUROPE process, which has promoted European forest cooperation since 1990. In this process, which also includes regular meetings of forest ministers, continuous efforts are being made to define criteria and indicators for the sustainable management and use of forests and to develop the related monitoring and reporting systems.
The forest sector expertise and knowledge accumulated in different European countries over several generations should be duly recognised when making decisions concerning forests. For decades, national forest policies and legislation have contributed to the development of high-quality knowledge and expertise that have also been successfully utilised. Forest-related solutions have been supported by practical experiences of forest owners and forest professionals and by solid scientific work.
Many forest policy issues are such that coordination and joint action is needed, which is why it is important to promote cooperation between the EU Member States, the European Commission and other key partners in the region. Many forest-related issues have impacts across national and sectoral borders, including on challenges related to climate change adaptation and promoting biodiversity and the biocircular economy. The cooperation should be open, comprehensive and inclusive.
“The decisions on forest policy are made nationally. At the same time, it is important that we strengthen our cooperation and share best practices among each other, also taking into account the overall sustainability of the use of forest. What is also crucial is that market-based incentives guide forest owners to take good care of their forests. National forest inventories and other information concerning forests provide a solid basis for reliable decision-making,” Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä said in his speech.