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The Forest Europe Ministerial Conference (see box) will take place for the sixth time from 14 to 16 June in Oslo. Switzerland‘s delegation to Norway is led by Andreas Götz, Vice Director of the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN. A decision will be taken at the conference as to whether negotiations should commence on the establishment of an international agreement on the sustainable management and protection of European forests.
The content of the proposed agreement remains open. The aim in Oslo is to give the green light to a working group of different Member States which will develop a concrete proposal for the agreement by 2013.
Switzerland played an active part in the development of options in advance of the conference. In its meeting on 25 May, the Federal Council decided to support the efforts to establish a European forest agreement. The pan-European harmonisation of regulations would strengthen forest and wood policy; in Switzerland too. For example, it would be easier to develop trade rules and promote the import and sale of sustainably sourced wood products.
Forest Europe is a cooperative policy process involving 46 European states and the EU Commission. The main aims of its cooperation are the protection and management of European forests. Forest Europe was established in 1990 as the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE). At the time, the main focus of debate was forest decline. The relevant ministers have met regularly since then and they last met in Warsaw in 2007. In addition to economic issues, Forest Europe‘s current agenda also includes the development of joint strategies for dealing with challenges such as the adaptation of forests to climate change and the emerging increase in the demand for wood.