Vilm resolution Beech Forest Network of Europe

European experts call for a logging moratorium in European old-growth Beech Forests, especially in protected areas and state properties

Vilm Resolution Beech Forest Network of Europe
Vilm Resolution European Beech Forest Ne[...]
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From 15 to 19 of November 2015, 30 experts and stakeholders from 12 European countries [1], who are dedicated to ecological research on and conservation of old and free-willed European Beech forest ecosystems, gathered on the Isle of Vilm and conducted an intensive workshop to exchange recent findings [2].

 

As one of the results of the workshop they agreed on the following statement:

  1. The European Beech Forests represent a unique and unifying European natural heritage, stretching from the Mediterranean regions and southeastern Europe to the British Isles and Scandinavia, comprising vast areas in the Balkans and the Carpathians as well as in the northern European lowlands. The special history and ongoing ecological processes related to the expansion of beech forests after the Ice Ages is acknowledged by the establishment of a transnational serial UNESCO World Heritage property “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany”. Inscribed in 2007 and 2011 this site now comprises 15 component parts in Germany, Slovak Republic and Ukraine.
  2. We applaud the efforts of 11 countries currently striving for the extension of this World Heritage property and on having submitted a total of 64 component parts to the corresponding UNESCO tentative list [3], and we express our hope that the experts and the World Heritage Committee in charge of evaluating the proposal share and promote the enthusiasm of a growing group of people and nations dedicated to the conservation of primeval and old Beech Forests. The serial World Heritage property has the potential to develop into a unique Europe-wide instrument for effective conservation and for raising the awareness of  the value of primeval and old forests without any interventions.
  3. Taking into account all lessons learnt in the context of the management  of the existing World Heritage site and referring to a recent study on its management [4] as well as reports from the member countries, it is confirmed that the nomination can boost recognition and regional sustainable development. It also facilitates access to additional resources. But it is also acknowledged that the management of the property requires appropriate resources for the activities of working groups and coordinated action.
  4. A significant part of the workshop was dedicated to better understanding the vulnerability of Beech Forest Ecosystems across all 12 beech forest regions that have been identified. A preliminary inventory of ecosystemic stresses, the threats and the underlying causes shows a diverse panorama. In many regions (such as the so-called Pyrenaic-Iberic, Central Mediterranean, Alpic, Atlantic, Subatlantic-Hercynic, Baltic, and Polonic-Podolic-Moldovan regions) past forest degradation has led to  increased vulnerability to  current and future threats. Fragmentation, isolation, eutrophication as well as intensified harvesting are particularly problematic in a number of regions.
  5. In those regions that represent the centre of large and intact European Beech Forests (especially Carpathian, Illyric and Moesian-Balcanic regions) comprising large and highly  significant tracts of wilderness the intensity and way of forest exploitation gives reasons for serious concerns. There are reports about substantial illegal logging activities in various countries such as Kosovo, Romania and Ukraine that also involve internationally operating companies from Western Europe. Especially in Romania the loss of ancient forests is at a  critical stage. We ask our governments and the European Commission to investigate these claims.
  6. We also urge the governments to avoid overexploitation and to ban inappropriate silvicultural practices such as clearcutting, large-scale shelterwood systems and coppicing, and support independent monitoring programs on the  impacts of silviculture on forest ecosystem functioning using old-growth forests as a benchmark.
  7. Experts from various regions observed that climate change is aggravating the vulnerability of multiply stressed forest ecosystems. Old-growth forests are suggested to be more resilient and characteristically better able to  provide buffer  and regulating capacities as a result of complex  feedback processes and high levels of mutualism. They also represent a significant ‘knowledge bank’ of tested genotypes and phenotypes from which forestry could benefit. More research is needed on this topic.
  8. The old-growth forests constitute a significant component of Europe’s Green Infrastructure. The conservation and restoration of old-growth Beech Forests promote ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and provide stepping stones for shifting species. At the same time old-growth forests provide crucial ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration by permanently storing organic matter in the soil for thousands of years. The destruction of old-growth forests is a significant source of man-induced carbon emissions.
  9. The current protected area systems in Europe are insufficiently protecting the remaining stock of old-growth Beech Forests and focusing too heavily on a few iconic well-known sites. The effectiveness of protected areas harboring old-growth Beech Forests needs to be improved and standardized in Europe as well as controlled by an independent regular auditing process.
  10. We call for a logging moratorium in European old-growth Beech Forests, especially in protected areas and state properties. Old-growth forests must be categorically excluded from biomass provision, e.g. in the context of renewable energy production. We also identify the urgent need to enhance public awareness about the relevance of old-growth forests.

 

Isle of Vilm, 19 November 2015

 

Dr. Oliver Avramoski

IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Katrin Bärwald

Nationalparkamt Vorpommern, Germany

Yuriy Berkela

Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, Ukraine

Dr. Iovu-Adrian Biris

National Research and Development Institute for Forestry, Romania

Dr. Alfredo Di Filippo

Università della Tuscia, Italy

Susann Flade

Nationalpark-Zentrum Königsstuhl, Germany

Marian Gic

State Nature Conservancy of Slovak Republic - Poloniny National Park

Dr. Nikolaos Grigoriadis

Forest Research Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece

Anni Henning

European Wilderness Society, Austria

Dr. Peter Hobson

Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Writtle College, United Kingdom

Prof. Dr. Pierre Ibisch

Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany

Kemajl Kadriu

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Kosovo

Nexhmije Kamberi

Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Kosovo

Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter Knapp

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, KI II, Germany

DI Anna Kovarovics

E.C.O. Institute of Ecology, Austria

Peter Lehmann

Nationalpark-Zentrum Königsstuhl, Germany

Michaela Mrazova

State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic Headquarters

Prof. Dr. Gianluca Piovesan

University of Tuscia, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Forest, Italy

Dr. Vasyl Pokynchereda

Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, Ukraine

Dr. Assoc. Prof. Bohdan Prots

WWF Danube Carpathian Programme and State Museum of National History, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine

Max Rossberg

European Wilderness Society, Chairman, Austria

Matthias Schickhofer

Agent Green, Romania (Strategic Advisor, Austria)

Oscar Schwendtner

Bioma Forestal, Spain

PhD Olena Slobodian

Gorgany Nature Reserve, Ukraine

Dr. Tibor Standovár

Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

Lena Strixner

Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany

Frederik Vaes

Environment Brussels, Belgium

Dr. Daniel-Ond Turcu

National Research and Development Institute for Forestry, Romania

Marcus Waldherr

 Centre for Econics & Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany

PD Dr. Susanne Winter

Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany

 

 

 

 

[1] Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, United Kingdom, Ukraine

[2] The workshop was funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and organised by the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development and Writtle College. The participants work with ministries and other governmental institutions, academia as well as non-governmental organisations (Agent Green, European Wilderness Society, IUCN ECARO, WWF Ukraine).


[3] Concerning the Joint Management System of the property as well as the management teams of the component parts.

[4] Conducted by the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, for the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

 

 

 

 

Cosava old-growth Beech Forest in the Romanian Carpathians with substantial amount of deadwood and biological richness. Photograph by Matthias Schickhofer, Copyright notice: Matthias Schickhofer / Agent Green
Large-scale logging of old Beech Forests in the Carpathians of Romania (Semenic). Photograph by Matthias Schickhofer, Copyright notice: Matthias Schickhofer / Agent Green