The forest week : no forest no future !

European Action Weekend: During the weekend of 22nd till 24th of april, the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) kicked off its European week of the forest. Young people in Europe are worried about the future of the forest. In many countries FYEG organises seminars, debates and actions concerning the forest.

The forests are the greatest repository of biological diversity, providing a home for two-thirds of the planet’s plant and animal-life. Due to its capacity to transform carbon-dioxide the forest is absolutely vital in maintaining the Earth’s climate-balance. Without it, life as we know it would cease to exist.
A forest is not, and cannot simply be a source of lumber! Indeed, it is an organic entity that fundamentally contributes to the quality of life of all (human) beings.

Reducing fl ooding, sustaining local micro-climates, cleaning the air of pollutants, reducing noise, as well as satisfying recreational needs: all of these are the gifts of the forests, but can only be maintained if illegal logging is halted, clear-felling curbed, and nature-conform forestry methods adopted.

The European Forest
Over 30 % of the continent is covered by forestland, and although the tree-stock increases every year, the native deep-forests of Europe have been almost completely destroyed. (Only 5% remain inviolate).
Most forestry activities concentrate on logging, ignoring those sylvicultural methods, which accommodate not only commercial, but environmental and societal needs as well.

“Finnish people live surrounded by forests and they are very dear to us” says Satu Hassi, green MEP and Vice Chair of the Environmental Committee. “Forests are also important for Finnish economy. But forests are more than just trees, they are home for a great number of species, many of which are today endangered. We must not only protect the forest hectares but also the biodiversity in forests. Therefore we need many kinds of forests, young forests, old growth forests. And defi nitely we need more forests to be protected, and softer forestry methods.

After several years of gradual improvement, the condition of European forests has once again begun to deteriorate. One quarter of the treestock is considered damaged, either due to drought, various pests, or air-pollution. Since the diversity of tree species is not maintained, and environmentally-wise methods – such as the so called Pro Silva Technique – are not applied, the monocultural forests promote the rapid and massive spread of such dangers.

Heavy industry, mass-transportation, acid rain, and nitrogen-pollution threaten the very existence of trees in Europe. e.g. In Slovakia 40 % of the forest is dying because of acid-rain.
Finally in some of the poorer regions illegal logging has increased to such a degree that it has now become a major cause of forest destruction.

“The forest is importan” says Ernest Urtasun, spokesperson of FYEG. “Trees and nature are proven to be healthy for humans. They give animals and plants a place to live and clean the air. They also protect the soil and give humans rest and a place to release stress. Forests are a need for biodiversity in nature and ecosystems. Without them there is no future for many animals and other living creatures. We call upon governments and the European Union to protect and save the existing forests and create new ones.”

Illegal Trade
“Our forests play a unique and highly important role for the health of our planet” says Alain Lipietz, green MEP. “They are immensely rich, giving a habitat to wildlife and communities. But they are threatened: thousands of square miles of natural forest are lost every year mostly because of global trade in forest products.”

Nearly 80 % of the planet’s deep forests have been destroyed. 160 thousand km2 of forest disappears every year. Half are cut down in the tropics; the other half is logged in North America and Russia. The EU is one of the main marketplaces for clear-felled and illegally logged African, South east Asian, and Russian timber. A large part of the European timberimport originates from Russia, 35 % of which is obtained illegally.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
To satisfy the genuine needs of those consumers who are concerned about the world-wide diminution of forests and the preservation of the natural landscape a forest-certifi cation system has been developed. It is called the Forest Stewardship Council, and tracks the trees from their source through harvesting, the systems of processing all the way to what’s on offer at the local department store. Since its initiation it has grown to be used in 21 European countries and over 15 million hectares of forestry land is managed according to FSC principles. Looking for the FSC logo is how all consumers can help prevent forest destruction.

Forest Week
During the week of 22nd to the 31st of April, many young green people will be planting trees in the streets to reclaim the streets for new nature. In the whole of Europe, from Malta to Finland as from Cyprus till the Netherlands young people are getting into action to save our forest. Forests are in danger throughout the world as well as in Europe. As the future generation we want to live in a environmental friendly surrounding together with the trees and the animals that live in the forest.

Among the activities:
Malta: A Quiz night, an Infotainment evening and tree planting as well as many other events.
France: “Gardening Guerilla” in Ménilmontant (Paris) on the occasion of the forest week.
Germany: a guided tour in a close forest in Augsburg, the capital of Schwaben the 30th of April and action about the value of old trees in Donauwörth.
Germany: Actions in the town of Mühldorf
The Netherlands: Planting of trees on terrain of a former car company in Wageningen.
Poland: Movie screenings and discussions, as well as collecting of symbolic “green votes” for Białowieza National Park.

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