The state of the world’s forests continues to be a source of concern. According to the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, the annual rate of global forest loss amounts to ten million hectares (primeval forests accounting for about a third of that). Most deforestation and forest degradation takes place in the tropics and sub-tropics, but there is also significant forest loss in boreal regions (Russia, Canada). Destruction and deforestation of primeval forests is leading to an irreversible loss of species. Around 70 percent of all species live in what are known as mega-diverse countries in the tropics and subtropics, and primarily in species-rich tropical forests. Tropical forests are of special importance for maintaining atmospheric circulation at regional as well as global level. They also provide essential water and ecosystem services such as protecting the soil and capturing and storing CO2 from the atmosphere.
The Federal Environment Ministry supports countries in protecting, conserving, sustainably managing and restoring forests through its International Climate Initiative (ICI). Projects build on ideas arising from decisions taken in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and aim at better interlinking biodiversity conservation and climate action. They also contribute substantially to the implementation of the sustainable development goals and the UN Decade for the restoration of ecosystems and other important international initiatives.
The Bonn Challenge, an internationally recognised global action platform for forest landscape restoration, was launched by the German Environment Ministry and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011. Its goal is to bring 150 million hectares of forest into restoration by 2020 or at least to have started the required national processes by then. This goal was achieved in May 2017 – well in advance of the planned timeline. With its International Climate Initiative (IKI) the German Environment Ministry therefore specifically promotes forest restoration, supports the national development of the necessary policy and planning tools and fosters new, creative business models. .
New York Declaration on Forests
The German Government supports the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), which was signed by more than 190 governments, companies, civil society and indigenous organisations at the Leader's Climate Summit on 23 September 2014. The declaration's aim is to completely stop the loss of natural forests and restore 350 million hectares of forest in line with the goal of the Bonn Challenge by 2030. The annual NYDF Progress Assessments report on the progress made in fighting the causes of deforestation and forest degradation.
The main task of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is to promote sustainable forest management around the world. The focus is on increasing coherence between the numerous, often competing, processes and organisations relevant for forests at international level. In January 2017, the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017 - 2030 was adopted. This is the first common reference framework for the entire UN and all other international players. Its implementation is to be tied in closely with the 2030 Agenda. This is also reflected in its global forest goals and targets.
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+)
Rules on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) have been developed under UNFCCC to support developing countries in maintaining and further developing the role of forests as carbon sinks. To this end, social and ecological safeguards were agreed in 2010 in Cancún, while in 2013 the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ set out the methodological requirements for performance-oriented payments to facilitate national implementation of REDD+. REDD+ can contribute greatly to global forest conservation and climate action and to climate neutrality in the second half of the century, as is also recognised in Article 5 of the Paris Agreement. At the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris, Germany, Norway and the UK announced that they would support the implementation of REDD+, and by 2020 they had made available 5.6 billion US dollars.
European Forest Strategy
After commitments made at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), follow-up conferences and the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (FOREST EUROPE), in 1998 the European Commission laid down several key areas of activity for the promotion of sustainable forest management in Europe in a forest strategy. An action plan was to implement the goals of this strategy between 2007 and 2011. In view of the considerable changes in social and political expectations, the European Commission drew up a new forest strategy in 2013. It highlights ten interlinked focal areas for the European timber industry and forest management.
EU Regulation FLEGT
The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Regulation (FLEGT) regulates national controls of timber imports from countries that have concluded partnership agreements with the EU against illegal logging (EU Council Regulation 2173/2005). Agreements have been negotiated with seven tropical countries so far. Under these agreements, the partner countries commit themselves to setting up authorisation and licensing schemes to ensure that only legally logged timber is exported to the EU. In return, they receive direct support for improving capacities in their forest management and law enforcement, while provisions under the EU Timber Trade Regulation ensure them easier access to the EU market. The first country to put this system into practice was Indonesia. Since 15 November 2016, timber products from Indonesia must be accompanied by FLEGT licenses when imported into the EU. The licensing scheme is strictly and independently monitored and therefore no additional proof of legality under the EU Timber Regulation is needed for these products.
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration