Forests cover approximately 30% of the Earth’s land area, host 80% of its biodiversity; support the livelihoods of around a quarter of the world’s population. At the EU level, forests cover approximately 42% of the land area. In addition to providing economic and job opportunities to local communities, forests are an irreplaceable biodiversity reservoirs and carbon sinks; they prevent soil erosion; they provide clean water through filtration; they clean the air; they play a central role in risk reduction measures vis-à-vis natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, erosion or landslides; and they support leisure and recreation, essential for human health.
The world’s forests are in serious danger from deforestation and forest degradation, with a forest area of 1.3 million square kilometres lost between 1990 and 2016. Pressures on EU forest ecosystems due to climate change and unsustainable forest management are a reason for concern and are expected to increase in the future, due to increasing demand of timber coming from the bioenergy the bioeconomy sectors, in a context where illegal logging continues to be recorded in a number of Countries. Overall, protecting forests means protecting biodiversity and working for a climate neutral and climate resilient land.
In this context, DG Environment organised an International Conference on Forest for Biodiversity and Climate on 4-5 February 2020 in Brussels.